It has been seen, time and again, that kids, especially high school students, undergo bullying during their academic life. Bullying is not a novel concept for many kids and parents. But the explosion of the digital age has given an opportunity to be virtually connected to anyone in the world. Despite delivering myriad of positive results, internet has also lead towards raising a new problem for the society – cyberbullying. Using internet’s power, bullies are able to victimize kids far beyond their classroom walls, in ways that are quite easier to hide from the adults or parents.
Cyberbullying enables one to threaten, harass, or intimidate a victim through electronic communication means. A lot of students get cyberbullied either through text messages or online platforms such as social media and emails.
Cyberbullying is quite hard to control. The effects emanating from cyberbullying can be devastating for your kids and may undermine their physical and mental conditions.
As a parent, you might know the dangers associated with bullying and believe that same would apply to cyberbullying as well. However, we would like to discuss some of the things about cyberbullying many parents would not know. Let’s discuss them in detail:
Most of the parents are unaware of their kids being exposed to cyberbullying. The reason is cyberbullying takes place in some sort of parallel communication universe where parents don’t have any access to. In this universe of their own, kids pass text messages to each other, use social media sites that most parents don’t visit, and upload/share posts with their friends that cannot be seen by their parents due to privacy settings. Victims of cyberbullying do not tell their parents about it as they fail to realize that they’re being bullied or feel embarrassed about sharing such stories. They do understand that whatever is happening with them makes them feel bad but they do not realize to what extent it is wrong for them and whether it should be shared with someone or not. When kids stay tight-lipped, parents will also remain unaware of the situation. Therefore, we highly advice parents to make their children identify cyberbullying and openly speak about the matter.
No drama, it’s bullying!
Most of the kids may perceive bullying as some kind of drama. They might come across something online or in text messages and consider it weird, without giving much thought about it. It might make them squirm for the time being but they would not necessarily think of it wrong or bad and would not discuss with their parents. Instead of reacting or trying to put a stop to it, they simply snub it by relating it to some drama. Now this is where parents need to step in and make their kids understand that whether they call it drama or bullying, it can hurt them in a bad way.
The ‘Real’ Side of Bullies
Parents or teachers might find hard to believe but most bullies are often the popular kids present at school. Obviously, the ones who steal lunch from other students are also termed as bullies but the popular ones also enjoy the benefit of bullying others. They invest in bullying as they believe it might help their social status. And quite frankly, who doesn’t like being powerful and dominating? Besides being a good student and a well-liked athlete, he or she can also be mean and hurtful to others. Other than popular kids, there might be some bullies who lash out because they’ve also been subjected to bullying in their past life. They find pleasure in bullying others because they’ve also been bullied previously. It is better to always find out the ‘real’ side of bullies before punishing them.
Parents, for the most part, should understand how influential cyberbullying can be on their kids mental and physical health. They should never ignore matters that hint cyberbullying. Watch out for the text messages your kids are receiving and make sure they’re not getting affected by them. Check out the social media networks your kids have joined and see if they’re facing cyberbullying in any way. When you come across something substantial, such as threatening, stalking, or sexually explicit, be immediate to report to the authorities.
Above all, as a parent, you need to teach your kid or any other person engaged in cyberbullying to be a good online citizen. Make them understand the role of the bystander in bullying. A bystander is the person who witnesses cyberbullying. He or she is the one who can take a stand against cyberbullying. When bystanders stand up and discourage bullying, it can make a huge difference in the lives of the victims as they’re supporting them by standing up to the bullies. Therefore, you need to encourage them to play an effective role being a bystander.