Online Bullying: Tips for Prevention
Between cell phones, social media websites and online gaming, children today seem to have more outlets for interacting with each other virtually than they do for interacting with each other in person. While there are benefits to using these technologies, there are also some cons.
Communication with your kids is the key to bully prevention, says Jennifer N. Caudle, DO.
One issue that has become more prevalent with the increased use of technology among children is online bullying. This newer form of bullying comes in the form of harassing text messages and derogatory posts on social media. Even though it may not take place in person, the emotional and psychological effects of online bullying are just as destructive. Since new media and cell phones are harder to track and monitor, parents need to take preventive measures that can help minimize the effects of online bullying on their children.
How Online Bullying Affects Kids
The effects of online bullying often go unnoticed as many victims feel the need to conceal the fact that it is happening. Jennifer N. Caudle, DO, an AOA board-certified family physician in Philadelphia, explains that this can make the issue worse for children being bullied. She also encourages parents and even teachers to look for the following signs in children who may be victims of online bullying:
- Lack of confidence
- Decline in academic performance
- Sleep issues
“If left unaddressed, bullying can significantly impact a child’s development,” stresses Dr. Caudle.
Connecting With Kids Online
According to Dr. Caudle, in order to prevent online bullying, parents must be actively involved in their children’s online lives. “Communication with one’s children is the key to bully prevention,” says Dr. Caudle. Follow them on Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, and send them a friend request on Facebook. Play Xbox One—or the latest online gaming system they love—with them. Parents who are proactively involved with their children’s interactions online are subsequently able to monitor these activities more closely and be aware of online bullying, if any, is happening.
Creating Safe Spaces
Dr. Caudle advises that, in addition to interacting more with their children, parents should also take the necessary preventive measures to create safe places for their children to get away from online bullying.
Parental involvement in a child’s social interactions allows for a sense of comfort and protection from bullying.
“The home should be a safe place where open discussion is not only allowed, but invited,” she says. Parental supervision and involvement in a child’s social interactions allows for a sense of comfort and protection from bullying.
Ending the Bullying Cycle
Dr. Caudle also notes that one must not forget about the bullies themselves. Often, bullying is a cry for help and can usually be traced to a time when the bully was in fact a victim of this type of behavior. Thus, creating a safe environment where one’s child feels comfortable enough to talk about being bullied can help put a stop to bullying before it ever starts.