How to stop your child being cyberbullied

Cyberbullying has emerged as a pervasive and distressing issue in recent years, posing significant challenges to childrens’ mental wellbeing and safety online.

As parents navigate the complexities of the digital landscape, it’s essential that they equip themselves with effective strategies to prevent and address cyberbullying.

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is when a person uses technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target someone else on devices like smartphones, computers, tablets, and gaming systems.

Cyberbullying is particularly harmful because many children today have almost constant access to their devices, which mean they have almost no escape from it.

The impacts of cyberbullying can be significant. It can affect your child’s relationships, school grade and wellbeing. Cyberbullying that continues over an extended period can lead to depression and even attempts of suicide. In 2014, a 14-year-old girl in Australia took her own life over cyberbullying.

What are the signs of cyberbullying?

So how can you tell if your child or teenager is being cyberbullied? It can be tricky to find out, as they may not want to tell you out of shame, or for fear their devices will be taken away. Here are some signs of cyberbullying to look out for:

  • Your child is upset during or after using their device
  • They become very secretive and protective of their device
  • They are spending more time than normal in their bedroom
  • They are withdrawing from family, friends and activities
  • They don’t want to go to school, perhaps saying they feel unwell
  • Their school grades start to slip
  • You notice changes in their mood, behaviour, sleep, or appetite
  • They don’t want to use their devices
  • They’re nervous or jumpy when getting an alert in their device

Six tips to help you stop your child being cyberbullied

What can you do if you suspect your child is being cyberbullied? Trevor Cooke, the online privacy expert at EarthWeb, discusses the proactive measures you can take that can help create a safer digital environment for your child to thrive.

1) Keep records of incidents

In addition to fostering open communication and seeking support from school authorities, it’s crucial for parents to keep detailed records of cyberbullying incidents. Documenting the nature of the bullying, including screenshots of harmful messages or interactions, can provide valuable evidence for addressing the issue effectively. 

Trevor’s tip: By keeping records of what happened, parents can provide accurate information to school administrators and law enforcement authorities if necessary.

2) Block bullies and limit tech access

Blocking bullies and limiting access to technology for a period can help protect children from further harm and create a safer online environment. Encourage your child to block individuals who engage in cyberbullying behaviour and utilise privacy settings to restrict access to their online profiles. 

Trevor’s tip: Additionally, consider implementing time limits or device restrictions to reduce exposure to harmful content and promote healthy screen time habits.

3) Foster open communication

Effective communication forms the foundation of any successful strategy to combat cyberbullying. Parents should establish a supportive and non-judgmental environment where children feel comfortable discussing their online experiences.

Encourage open dialogue about cyberbullying and its potential impact, and reassure children that they can turn to you for support and guidance if they encounter troubling situations online. You may want to share your own experiences of bullying, if you have them. This can help them to feel less alone and shameful.

Trevor’s tip: Maintaining open communication with your child is crucial in addressing cyberbullying. Encourage them to share their online experiences and concerns with you, and listen empathetically without judgement.

4) Monitor your child’s online activity

Regularly monitoring your child’s online activity allows you to stay informed about their digital experiences and identify potential signs of cyberbullying. Utilise parental control tools and privacy settings to limit your child’s exposure to harmful content and monitor their social media accounts and messaging platforms for any concerning behaviour or interactions.

As part of monitoring online activity, parents should actively engage with their child’s online presence by ‘friending’ or ‘following’ their profiles on social media platforms. By maintaining a presence on your child’s online networks, you can stay informed about their interactions and intervene quickly if cyberbullying occurs again.

Trevor’s tip: Stay vigilant by actively monitoring your child’s online activity and setting clear boundaries around device usage. Regularly review their social media accounts and online interactions to ensure their safety and wellbeing.

5) Involve school authorities

Collaborating with school authorities and educators can provide additional support in addressing cyberbullying incidents and promoting a safe and inclusive school environment. Report any instances of cyberbullying to school administrators promptly and work together to develop proactive measures to prevent future incidents and support affected students.

Trevor’s tip: Don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s school if you suspect they are experiencing cyberbullying. Working together with educators can help address the issue effectively and ensure that appropriate support is provided to all students involved.

6) Seek professional help

In cases where cyberbullying has had a significant impact on a child’s wellbeing, seeking professional help from counsellors or mental health professionals may be necessary. Professional intervention can provide children with the support and coping strategies they need to navigate the emotional challenges associated with cyberbullying and develop resilience in the face of adversity

Trevor’s tip: If your child is struggling to cope with cyberbullying, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Counselling or therapy can provide them with the tools and support they need to navigate the emotional toll of cyberbullying and build resilience.

Read more advice to keep your children safe online

Preventing and addressing cyberbullying requires a proactive and collaborative effort from parents, educators, and communities. By working together to promote positive online behaviour and support children affected by cyberbullying, we can create a safer and more inclusive digital environment for all.

You can read more tips to help protect your children when they’re online in these articles: