Talking to your kids about cyberbullying

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Talking to your child about cyberbullying in today’s society has never been more important.

In the lead up to World Kindness Day we encourage you to open the lines of communication around treating others with kindness and take action against bullying and cyberbullying.

Although development of online technology has provided us with some amazing new ways to communicate and socialise, it can, unfortunately, provide a new space for bullying to occur.  

Research has shown that many of the children and young people start off with face to face and move to online bullying. So, it is important to get in early and teach your children better ways to behave socially before these bullying behaviours become intrenched as a pattern in their social behaviour. 

Cyberbullying is when a person or group of people keep doing things to someone online that make them feel hurt, upset or frightened and you cannot stop this from happening.  

Cyberbullying can include repeated: 

  • abusive or threatening messages or emails; 
  • posting of inappropriate images on social networking sites; 
  • excluding others from online chats or other communication; 
  • tagging of images inappropriately; 
  • sharing of someone’s personal or embarrassing information online
  • attacking players in online gaming for no strategic reason. 

Cyber bullying can also be more intense that face-to-face because: 

  • It can occur 24/7 and be difficult to escape as you can also be targeted at home. 
  • The person bullying can have a sense of being anonymous online.
  • It can have a large audience – messages or pictures can be sent to groups or posted on a public forum which can be permanent.
  • It is less likely children will tell someone if they are cyberbullied or if they know someone else is being cyberbullied. This is often because they fear they will have their device taken away or will be restricted in their online time. 

Signs your child might be being bullied online  

  • Being upset after using the internet or their mobile phone 
  • Appearing more lonely or distressed, withdrawn, anxious, sad or angry 
  • Unexpected changes in friendship groups 
  • Having trouble sleeping 
  • Avoidance of school or other activities they previously enjoyed 
  • Becoming secretive about their online activities and mobile phone use 

It can sometimes be difficult to know if your child is being cyberbullied and as they get older it is less likely they will tell you. It is important for parents to monitor their children’s online activities and encourage their child to talk about any troubling experiences. 

Top Tips for helping your children understand and respond to cyberbullying.  

  • Make sure they don’t respond. Responding to the cyberbullying brings attention to it and can cause it to become worse. 
  • Block the person who is bullying straight away. 
  • Check your child’s privacy settings. Ensure their social networking site profile is set to private. 
  • Keep a diary of what is happening and when. 
  • Save the evidence of the cyberbullying e.g. screenshot the evidence.  
  • Report the bullying to the site’s service provider to have it removed. 
  • Let your child’s school know. Even if it happened at home or on a weekend, bullying usually happen within the child’s social network of peers. Plus, your school can help you with advice and support your child while at school.  

For more information about online safety and how to report or remove cyberbullying go to 

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