As kids are spending more of their lives online, the threat of cyberbullying has been increasing steadily. It’s not uncommon, for example, for a 12-year old to have accounts across Tik Tok, Instagram, and Snapchat. Even Whatsapp can be a breeding ground for cyberbullying.
The big question is “How to keep kids protected?”.
Critical in the fight against cyberbullying is identifying the warning signs around when cyberbullying is taking place, or has the potential to take place.
In this article, we’ll primarily explore ways to check the threat of cyberbullying as early as possible, along with other important information around the cyberbullying threat.
Cyberbullying: It’s More Common Than You May Think
The first step in combating cyberbullying is being aware of just how big the problem is. The statistics are shocking. According to StopBullying.gov:
- Nationwide, about 20% of students ages 12-18 experience bullying
- Among students ages 12-18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, 15% were bullied online or by text
- An estimated 14.9% of high school students were electronically bullied in the previous 12 months
- Only about 20% to 30% of students who are bullied notify adults about the bullying
- Persistent bullying can lead to or worsen feelings of isolation, rejection, exclusion, and despair, as well as depression and anxiety, which can contribute to suicidal behavior (though the relationship between bullying and suicide is a complex one that is often oversimplified)
In a world where social status is being determined by the number of “likes” on a video, or where kids are interacting with adults on video game chat platforms – or when even Youtube comments can be left by anonymous trolls, cyberbullying is, without doubt, one of the most urgent issues requiring our attention today.
Identifying the Warning Signs of Cyberbullying
There are several warning signs when it comes to cyberbullying. Some of these include:
- A noticeable increase or decrease in device usage, especially texting
- Overly emotional responses to what is happening on a child’s device
- The hiding of screens or devices, deletion of chats and avoidance of discussion relating to recent online activities
- Closing of social media accounts and opening of new ones
- Avoidance of social situations, especially those that were enjoyed in the past.
- Becoming withdrawn or depressed, and losing interest in people and activities
These are not the only signs, nor are they definite proof that cyberbullying is occurring. Rather, they are common symptoms of a cyberbullying issue.
Addressing Possible Cyberbullying
Once cyberbullying is suspected, the issue should be addressed immediately. The overriding concern is for the welfare of the cyberbullying victim, and this should be at the forefront of any subsequent actions taken.
We think of this process with the “SDRS” acronym. This stands for:
- Speak to the victim
- Document the cyberbullying
- Report to the relevant authorities
- Support the victim
The first thing to do is speak to the victim if they are in your care, and if not to ensure a responsible party does so. Ask about what is going on, and ensure that you are not judgmental or threatening. Try to understand what happened, including who is involved.
Next, ensure you have documentation regarding cyberbullying. This can include screenshots or chat transcripts. This will be critical in addressing the behavior and ensuring it can be effectively stopped in the long-term.
Then, you should report the cyberbullying. This includes reporting the cyberbullying to the authorities if necessary, as well as to schools, social workers, and the platforms upon which the abuse took place.
Finally, the last action item is to support the victim. This support can take many forms and depends on the specifics of the relationship with the victim and the type of cyberbullying that occurred. It’s always a good idea to enlist the help of a professional to provide ongoing support to the cyberbullying victim.
Active Steps To End Cyberbullying
Being aware of the warning signs of cyberbullying is something that every person should be cognizant of. Parents and teachers specifically should be active on the lookout for evidence of cyberbullying. From a parenting perspective, the more you’re aware of in terms of your kids’ online activities, and the better your channels of communication, the more likely you are to catch any early warning signs.
Unfortunately, relying completely on catching the warning signs of cyberbullying is not a foolproof strategy. In many cyberbullying incidents, there were no warning signs. Sometimes even, kids are threatened and hide incidents of cyberbullying. The most effective way to combat cyberbullying and keep kids protected is to leverage technology, which is always alert, always awake and misses nothing.
At L1ght, this is our mission. L1ght’s proprietary technology analyzes and predicts harmful and toxic behavior, at last offering a robust solution to this complex challenge.
We protect children against cyberbullying, shaming, predators and online toxicity. Join us.