Ronita Dutta
November 2016.

What steps can parents take to prevent cyber-bullying?

1 answer

One of the things I hear all the time from parents is “Oh I don’t understand Facebook or Twitter or the latest social media trend.” The world is changing at a fast pace but not understanding social media shouldn’t be an excuse. Parents must make it their job, indeed priority to understand SnapChat, Instagram and the like. Otherwise how can they expect to know when their child may be suffering from cyber-bullying?

One of the first signs that your child might be being cyber-bullied is that he/she may suddenly retreat from using their phone/laptop/tablet. So look for evidence of your child acting differently. Ensure when you speak to them about it that you’re not going to threaten to take away their phone, as that’s often the reason a lot of children won’t open up about being bullied. There’s a lot of things that can be done in terms of seeking help depending on how far the bullying has gone.

"Ensure when you speak to them about it that you’re not going to threaten to take away their phone."

If you notice that your child is avoiding their phone, it’s integral to talk to them about it. Explain that just because the bullying is happening online it doesn’t mean that you as a parent aren’t able to help or intervene. If they were being bullied at school you’d escalate things in exactly the same way. First by speaking to your child and then speaking to the family of the child doing the bullying. And if neither of those work, speak to the school. Talk to your child about their concerns over your involvement – teenagers often won’t want to make things worse. Explain to them how things won’t be made worse and why they need to take action. Oftentimes bullying is made worse by no one doing anything because the person being bullied is too frightened.