If your child is the new kid at school, chances are they already feel alone and alienated, making them an easy target for online bullies. With today’s technology, hurtful comments and photos can be quickly uploaded and spread like wildfire. According to Kids Health, recent studies show about 1 in 4 teens have been the victims of cyberbullying. This can be a difficult thing for your child to work through on their own. Here’s how you can help as a parent if your child is dealing with cyber bullies while acclimating to their new school.
Think before you act.
Educate yourself on the many social media platforms your child may use so you can understand how they work without rushing to judgement. Try and put yourself in their shoes and understand the situation instead of overreacting in an effort to protect them. For example, threatening to take away their devices may cause them to retreat. Instead, build trust and communicate with your child. Create an environment where they feel they can be open and honest with you so that you are aware of any problems that arise online and are then able to help them. Additionally, allow them to dictate to you what they think is acceptable online behavior. Discuss with them how they would like to approach the situation and consider playing out scenarios so your child feels comfortable handling the bully in real life.
Set boundaries with technology.
If their only access to the online world is your family computer, keep it in a central location in the house so you can monitor their usage. However, if they have a mobile phone, tablet, or online gaming device, it can be harder to determine how much time they are spending on the internet.
“Technology is a great tool for children, but like everything else, moderation is key,” says Net Nanny. Instilling healthy habits such as being offline right before bed, as well as during dinner or family time, will help set boundaries and determine how big of a role the online world factors into their everyday life. Chances are, if they’re not overusing social media and technology, they’ll be more able to gain some much needed perspective.
Ask for help.
Make sure their school counselor is aware of the situation so they can keep an eye out for any bullying during school. Even if the bullying isn’t taking place at school, the administrators should still be made aware of the situation so they can monitor it and enforce any anti bullying policies they may have. Their school may also have a program for new students that could help make school a more inviting place. If your child continues to struggle with the aftermath of cyberbullying, consider getting help from a personal therapist. If the situation seems to be getting out of hand and threats of physical violence are made, be careful to document the evidence and contact the proper authorities.
Care.com asserts that “a parent's positive attitude can go a long way in increasing his or her child's ability to handle this changing, challenging time.” As such, it’s important that you stand by them and maintain a positive outlook. Make your home a safe haven for them by creating spaces they enjoy being in and that grant them the opportunity to pursue their hobbies. Encourage positive choices that do not allow toxic behavior or relationships to manifest. As the new kid, it’s important they choose the right friends and get involved in clubs or activities that interest them. This will help them feel more confident in the wake of cyberbullying.