The wild world of social media has its ups and downs-- mostly downs. Not only has it transformed our beloved children into intellectually-numbed kiddie robots, it also exposes them to something far worse: cyberbullying! Within a matter of seconds, their peers can instantly insult and humiliate each other, creating an online monster of terror for our kids. So how do we know if cyber-bullying is happening to them? There's usually some clear signals. Keep an eye out for these signs that cyberbullying is happening your child.
Social media, for the most part, should be a place of fun self-expression. But when it suddenly becomes a hostile environment, your child may give hints through their emotional responses to their social media.
For instance, maybe your child has changed from their usual level of obsession with Snapchat to something that seems less healthy such as appearing nervous or distressed. Make sure to monitor their facial expressions to see if they're engaging with social media in a positive or negative manner. If their behavior is negative and continues as a pattern, there's a chance they're being cyberbullied on social media.
Has your child become extremely self-conscious? Although it's normal for a kid to experience insecurity as a normal part of growing up and finding their identity, it's not normal to display forms of self-loathing overnight.
If you notice they've abruptly become critical of their appearance, beyond a healthy range, you should intervene. It's quite possible their onset of insecurity may be triggered by negative comments from cyberbullying.
Kids are constantly experimenting with their look. Typically, this isn't a problem, especially because kids are often trying to discover who they are.
However, if their change in appearance is extreme or out of character, you may have cause for concern. This behavior may mean they're responding to criticism from their peers on social media. They might be countering social pressure to appear a certain way by constructing a new look for themselves.
Sometimes victims of cyberbullying try to miss school. When a child's social media account is being hijacked by negative comments, they'll feel too anxious and embarrassed to see their peers.
Pay attention to when your child continues to make excuses to stay home or skip class. They may be struggling with their online social world. For this reason, you should always confirm that your child has a valid reason for wanting to miss class.
Open communication is key; ask them about their feelings. Are they responding dismissively or angrily? Both may be indicators of deeper conflicts outside of the home.
Every parent has their own policy on social media. Whether you act like a micro-managing cop or take a more relaxed approach, the red flags of secrecy remains the same: it might be cyberbullying.
A child who has become overly secretive about their social media may be hiding something. They might be trying to conceal their phone with extra precaution, especially when you look on their screens.
If you think cyber bullying is happening to your child, don't wait to intervene. Watch out for these signs and when necessary, encourage your child to communicate honestly. You can also involve a school guidance counselor to assist with the issue and facilitate open dialogue about the social conflict possibly afflicting your child.