Spotting the Signs: Is Your Child Being Cyberbullied?
As cyberbullying has emerged with the development of technology, for many parents, it may feel a bit like uncharted territory. On many difficult topics, We often relate to our children by similar experiences during our childhood. However, due to its recent appearance, cyberbullying is likely not something you experienced as a kid.
Answer these five questions to help you begin to identify if your child has become the target of cyberbullying.
Have you noticed a change in emotional behavior?
When children become victims of cyberbullying, one of the first noticeable signs is usually a change in behavior. According to The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), children often show emotional changes in behavior such as becoming more withdrawn, shy, anxious, depressed, and/or agitated and aggressive (2010). If you discover that your child has been targeted, it is especially critical to watch for signs of depression.
Has their willingness to attend school changed?
Often, a culmination of the emotional impact, fear, and depression resulting from cyberbullying will leave kids finding any way possible to avoid going to school. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) suggests victims of cyberbullying may, “increasingly report symptoms of illness for which he or she wants to stay home” (2016). Watch for your child making excuses to stay home from school, and engage in conversation about the underlying reasons they don’t want to attend.
Have you noticed a drop in grades?
Similar to a drop in school attendance, it has also been observed that children who are cyberbullied may have a significant drop in grades (NCPC, 2010). If you notice that your child’s grades have slipped, it could potentially be a sign of problems at school that should be explored.
Are they avoiding or becoming upset by technology?
Is your child avoiding using their computer, phone, or other devices? Have you noticed that they are unusually upset after using technology? These are dangerous signals that your child may be the target of cyberbullying. The ADL reports that victims regularly are, “upset, sad or angry during or after using the Internet or cell phone” (2016). Many kids stop using technology altogether.
Has your child lost interest in things they once enjoyed?
If your child seems uninterested in things they used to love, it is a potential warning sign of both cyberbullying and depression. The ADL reports a loss of interest in previously activities as a significant warning sign and recommends to take immediate action of any signs are recognized.
While all of these things could unquestionably be related to something other than cyberbullying, if you answered yes to any questions you may want to sit down with your child and discuss the meanings behind what you’ve observed. Try to watch their comfort level as you engage in discussion, particularly if the subject of cyberbullying generates a strong emotional reaction. If it does, it is probable that your child has become a victim; while this is something that no parents want for their child, try to recognize that you’ve identified the problem and can begin to work together on a solution.