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a boy worried and stressed looking at laptop because of cyberbullying

What you Need to Know about Parenting in a Digital Age: Cyberbullying

Have you ever seen an unknown person's photo posted on Facebook, with a caption of how long they took to get ready for school?

Or maybe read a status of someone you never even talked about calling them fat and stating that she looks like the behind the scenes of "Planet of the Apes?" a boy worried and stressed looking at laptop because of cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is any type of bullying or harassment that takes place over electronic devices such as on social media platforms such as: Facebook, SnapChat and Instagram

This includes sending mean and hurtful text messages and posting hateful comments online on blog sites and on Internet forums.

In a report from the National Crime Prevention Council, cyberbullying can have long term effects on a young person's mental health and wellbeing.

It has been found that those who have been involved in cyberbullying are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety as it is considered an "extremely stressful" event.

For example, a study found that adolescents who were bullied through mobile phones experienced feelings of nervousness, threats to their lives or safety, with many being diagnosed with clinical depression as well as chronic headaches and bed-wetting.

Other research also suggests that those who are constantly bullied tend to use drugs as a way to escape from reality as they feel worthless and years down the road they will suffer from low self-esteem, loneliness and isolation.

1. What is cyberbullying and what are the effects on mental health?

Cyberbullying can be defined as sending mean and hurtful text messages, posting on Internet forums about someone or even making hateful comments online or on blog sites. 

It can also include teasing others through social media platforms such as Facebook, SnapChat and Instagram.

It is found that young people who are involved in cyberbullying are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety which means this is an extremely stressful event for them.

This stress comes from the fear of losing friends or social status.

Some victims may not be aware that they are being bullied because of the virtual nature of it all meaning there's no physical proof so the bully may carry on incessantly without any repercussions. 

This, however, is not the case and is absolutely as damaging as physical bullying.

What can these effects lead to?

For example "adolescents who were bullied through mobile phones experienced feelings of nervousness, threats to their lives or safety." 

One such fear is that they fear for their life and some even contemplate suicide to escape the "virtual" world.

Other research suggests that those who are constantly bullied tend to use drugs as a way to escape from reality. 

This can lead to using drugs such as marijuana and other illegal narcotics, drinking excessively or even throwing up while vomiting in order to feel better about themselves.

What is the difference between traditional bullying and cyberbullying?

The main difference between traditional bullying vs cyberbullying is that it's done through electronic devices rather than face-to-face interactions. 

For example, this means that text messages can be sent anonymously without having to confront someone directly which makes it much easier for the perpetrator to carry out their actions continuously without any repercussions. 

Some young people may not realise they're being bullied while others may feel too embarrassed to tell anybody about it.

Another difference is that cyberbullying can be done through different sites while school bullying tends to happen on the way home from school or in a few cases at school. 

This makes it really hard for parents and teachers to notice anything as kids have a much easier access to a variety of online interactions, therefore making it even harder for anyone to intercept what's going on. 

The fact that information can travel so quickly over electronic devices also puts people at risk as one mean comment or photo can ruin someone's reputation. 

In traditional bullying there isn't as much of an opportunity for this unless the perpetrator prints out the words exchanged between them and physically shows those around them which doesn't happen nearly as often

Other research also suggests that those who are constantly bullied tend to use drugs as a way to escape from reality as they feel worthless and years down the road they will suffer from low self-esteem, loneliness and isolation.

What other mental health problems can result from cyberbullying?

Other problems associated with cyberbullying include: depression, anxiety, headaches and bed-wetting. 

People who have been involved in bullying will also use drugs as a way to escape from reality and over time this will lead to low self-esteem, loneliness and isolation.

Who can be a victim of cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is not exclusive to a particular age group; people of all ages can be victims.

Do the effects change depending on how old you are?

No, while younger people may experience more immediate reactions such as: mental health problems like depression and anxiety which includes headaches, bed-wetting and feeling unsafe, older teens may experience feelings such as: drug use in order to cope with bullying over time leading to loneliness, unhappiness and isolation.

2. How to protect your child from cyberbullying

With the rise of technology, cyberbullying has become an ever increasing problem for children and young people today. 

Being bullied through mobile phones can have long term effects on a young person's mental health and wellbeing. 

Here are some simple steps to help protect your child from being bullied online:

  • Inquire about what is going on with your child.
  • Encourage them to tell you if they are being cyberbullied or know someone who is being cyberbullied.
  • Find out where they are using their devices or Internet. For example, if they have a smartphone then it's highly possible that they may be hanging around suspicious places so talk to them about it.

3. Signs that your child is being bullied online

The signs that your child is being cyberbullied may not be as obvious as those they give off when they're bullied in person.

Some of the most important clues that your child could be a victim of cyberbullying include:

Failing grades or sudden loss in interest in school, low motivation, and physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach aches.

4. What to do if you find out your child is being cyberbullied

If you discover that your child has been a victim of bullying on any social media platform, it is important to begin by being both reassuring and supportive: as mentioned above, some victims may feel that online abuse carries less weight than physical abuse/bullying and that they will not be taken as seriously because of this.

It is imperative that especially children are aware (if not fully understanding of) the role cyberbullying can play and the genuine seriousness of the matter.

The first thing you should do is tell your child not to keep or share any more of the cyberbullying messages so they don't get hurt again.

Remind them that what happens online doesn't have to define who they are as a person and encourage them not to retaliate against their bully on their personal account.

Reinforce that keeping or sharing the messages will definitely make them feel and has the potential of making things worse for themselves.

Inform school authorities

Next, contact school authorities about what's happened, either informally if this type of bullying has gone on before or formally if this is the first time something like this has happened.

Contact the police if your child is being threatened or harassed.

Encourage them to stop engaging with the bully online and start focusing on their positive qualities instead of what has happened.

Once they feel back in control, they will be able to fight back hard against any bullies by becoming more confident, stronger and happier than ever before.

Wrapping Up:

Victims of bullying through electronic devices may suffer from anxiety and depression which means this is an extremely stressful event for them, causing fear of losing friends or social status.

Some victims may not be aware that they are being bullied because of the virtual nature of it all so there's no physical proof so the bully may carry on incessantly without any repercussions.

Cyberbullying has become an ever-increasing problem for children and young people today and many believe that the rules currently in place are not enough to prevent, let alone deter children/teens/young adults from inflicting this type of abuse on their peers.

What do you think?

Let us know in the comments below.

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