The digital world evolves very fast. Social media platforms, apps, and new devices are in production every day, and teens are most often the first to use them. As social networking and online interaction become more popular among teens, facebook and Twitter have become the most common platforms for cyberbully attacks.
Last year the American SPCC.org reported that 20% of students in grades 9-12 were electronically bullied in the past year, 70% witnessed some form of bullying either in person or online. Additionally, 55.2% of LGBT students also experienced cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying, sexting, posting hateful messages or content and participating in negative group conversation online not only harm other teens, but this behavior can have a negative implication on bullies as well. The negative effect can damage their chances of getting into their chosen college or getting the job they want.
Other adverse effects related to mental health and overall well-being of teens involved in cyberbullying include anxiety, depression, isolation, and suicide. The CDC reports that both bullying others and being bullied have the highest risk of suicide-related behaviors.
The CDC does not know if bullying is a direct cause of suicide-related behaviors. However, the CDC noted that involvement in bullying, along with other risk factors, increases the chances of suicide-related behaviors among teens. The most vulnerable youth among teens are those with disabilities, learning and physical, and LGBTQ youth.
Bullying is tough for parents and teachers to stop, but some things can be done to prevent and put an end to bullying as well. Teachers can take a number of actions to prevent bullying such as creating a safe and supportive environment for teens, management of classroom while putting a stop bullying, and listening to learn what happened if bullying is encountered.
Parents can play their part as well. Observe your teens behavior, both online and offline. If you see bullying behavior from your teen correct this quickly. Second, monitor their social media and take authoritative action if you notice inappropriate behavior. Ensure your teen safe online. While monitoring their social media ensure they are not being harassed by peers.
Symptoms of Cyberbullying
1. Changes in online behaviors
2. Sudden interest in security or safety features
3. Become increasingly withdrawn
4. Poor or declining school attendance and performance
5. Self-esteem problems
6. Lack of sleep or loss of appetite
If an incident of cyberbullying occurs, do not overreact, encourage them to take a break from social media for a while. Encourage your teen to resolve the issue themselves, albeit with your support before you step in and take over. You and your teen can discuss ways to avoid the same situation happening again in the future.
Reassure your teen that you are on their side and will work with them to handle it. Your teen may feel as if the whole world is viewing the abusive content and drawing conclusions about them based on that content.
For more information, try cybersmile.org This is also a safe place for your teen if they experience bullying and need a safe place to contact. Assistance is available no matter the situation, please share with your teens if needed.