Adolescence is an uncertain time for most kids. They are stepping out and becoming more independent. They are gaining a sense of who they are, and where they may be going in life. It is during this crucial time in a child’s development that many of them experience cyberbullying.

 

Cyberbullying Is a Form of Trauma

Cyberbullying can be devastating to a child’s life. The deep psychological impact of cyberbullying often goes unnoticed until the outward signs are so obvious that they are already tearing the child’s life apart. Cyberbullying is considered a form of trauma just like any other abuse or violation against a child. The psychological impact of cyberbullying during adolescence can lead to issues with body image, self-esteem, self-confidence, and eating disorders.

 

Cyberbullying Affects Self-Esteem

Almost half of all children will experience some form of bullying in their childhood. 70% of them report seeing frequent bullying online. Most kids have a phone and a social media account which is where most cyberbullies target them. Cyberbullying can affect a child’s self-esteem by making them feel isolated and alone. Cyberbullying often comes at a time when it is vital that children are able to be themselves and feel good about who they are.

 

Cyberbullying Affects Self-Confidence and Can Lead To Suicide

Cyberbullies can affect a child’s sense of self-confidence. If children begin to believe the lies told to them about themselves, it will affect them emotionally, mentally, and physically. According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), kids who are victims of cyberbullying are at increased risk for poor school adjustment, sleep difficulties, anxiety, and depression. They can begin to see themselves as unworthy and their lives as meaningless.

They will begin to have trouble in all of their relationships. Relationships with friends, parents, and teachers can all suffer as a result. 83% of young people say bullying has a negative impact on their self-esteem and 30% of children who experience cyberbullying will turn to self-harm at some point.

 

Cyberbullying Affects Body

Cyberbullying and body image are directly linked. 61% of overweight teens have reported being bullied online, and 65% of those with eating disorders say bullying is at the root of their condition.

One of the cyberbully’s favorite tools is using social media to shame their victims. They post negative comments about their victim on social media to try to get the entire social media circle to join them. They spread rumors about their victims and threaten them through private messages. They will harass their victim in groups or completely cut them out of an online group. Some even go to extreme measures to make their victims feel vulnerable by creating fake profiles and impersonating their victims. Cyberbullying on social media can impact body image, especially in teens.

Teens who experience cyberbullying are at risk of developing eating disorders. In an attempt to appease the bully or feel better about themselves, victims will often begin focusing on their eating. They can become obsessed with weight and body image and are brutally critical of themselves. These types of mental patterns can lead to anorexia, bulimia, obsessive dieting, and other mental disorders.

 

Online Bullying Is Easier To Hide

More than 16,000 young people are absent from school because of some form of bullying.

In some ways, cyberbullying is far worse than the traditional face-to-face bullying. Typical bullying occurs in the moment and then is over, but the nature of cyberbullying makes it far more dangerous. The images, messages, and conversations that a cyberbully posts online are there for a child to see any time. Those words are seared into their minds, and they will repeatedly go back and read them. Cyberbullying creates a never-ending cycle of abuse which can be experienced over and over by the victim each time they go online.

Cyberbullying is easier to hide. Teachers, caregivers, and parents are often unaware that it is even going on. In the U.K. alone, it is estimated that 5.43 million young people have suffered from cyberbullying. The victims are often too ashamed to tell their parents, and the bullying continues. Your child doesn’t have to be one of these victims, though. As a parent, there are steps that you can take to ensure that your child stays safe from cyberbullies.

 

What Parents Can Do To Prevent Cyberbullying

Talk to your kids about cyberbullying and let them know that they can talk to you. Watch for changes in your child’s behavior such as being withdrawn, angry, changes in appetite, or depression. Tell them to alert you if they see anything that looks like cyberbullying online. Here are some steps to take into consideration:

  • 1. Acknowledge cyberbullying and discuss with your children exactly what it is and why it is harmful.
  • 2. Educate your children on identifying and reacting to new forms of cyberbullying.
  • 3. Learn new technologies that may increase chances of cyberbullying.
  • 4. Create expectations and boundaries about online behaviors.
  • 5. Be cautious about your children’s computers, phones, and social media accounts.
  • 6. Encourage your children to stand up to others who are being harassed, and to report cyberbullying they may witness.
  • 7. Step up your involvement and monitor online activity seriously.
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    You can take an active role in protecting your child from a cyberbully. Adolescence is filled with new challenges, new feelings, and new experiences. Cyberbullying shouldn’t be one of them.

     


    Editor’s Note: This blog article was written by an outside contributor – a guest blogger – for the purpose of offering a wider variety of content for our readers. However, the opinions and recommendations expressed in this guest blog are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of The Security Awareness Company, LLC. If you are interested in writing something for us, please do not hesitate to contact us: blog@thesecurityawarenesscompany.com.

    Emily Thompson

    Cyber Safety Consultant at KidGuard
    Just a neighborhood mom (and coincidentally a Cyber Safety Consultant) passionate about child and teen online safety. I’m a firm believer of building a loving and trusting relationship between parent and child through open dialogue, education, and monitoring measures (when and if necessary).

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