Cyberbullying, as a concept, is one that is increasingly talked about, but what we often forget is that it is simply an umbrella term for a plethora of activities that classify as online bullying. Outing, dissing, trolling, exclusion – these are all types of cyberbullying. There’s a dearth of knowledge about what cyberbullying really is and how it manifests itself over the internet, and an even greater dearth of accessible information on what to do if a child is being cyberbullied.
We at CyberSWIFTT are a trio of girls in their 20s trying to help kids and their parents to better deal with and reduce cyberbullying and to raise awareness about the very real dangers of cyberbullying and the various ways it manifests itself on the Internet.
Here are some of our tips on how to reduce the chances of your child being cyberbullied and what to do if it does happen.
Have a pre-emptive conversation.
“Even if your child is not a victim of cyberbullying, make sure to start a conversation about it with them. A big reason why kids feel helpless when they get cyberbullied is because they don’t know how to break it to their parents. The more aware parents are about how modern-day bullying happens, the less they’ll see this as the child’s doing. If, however, the child feels daunted by the idea of talking about it to his/her parents directly, then they must at least talk to a trusted adult, such as a school counsellor or a close uncle or aunt. In addition, parents need to be aware of the new apps being used by their children so that they’re better equipped to deal with any issues that may arise through that app.” – Aalia
Stop the confession pages.
“A lot of schools and universities have these pages where foul/vulgar language, openly insulting someone by name, and blatant bullying is completely accepted. It is the responsibility of student bodies, parents, and higher authorities to put an end to this.” – Reem
Put things into perspective.
“Make sure to tell them that with success comes criticism, so take the helpful comments positively and ignore the ones that come from jealous peers. Cyberbullying can have a number of effects on a child’s mental health, so it’s of utmost importance that they’re made to feel safe and validated by their parents as opposed to feeling scared and unsure of themselves.” – Momina
Do your part to keep your child safe.
“Try your best to protect your child from being cyberbullied! Having a Sarahah or a Curious Cat account may be “cool” amongst children nowadays, but they are platforms that make it incredibly easy for a child to be bullied online. As enticing as it is to be told wonderful things anonymously, it’s equally harmful and disturbing when one gets vile messages of hate – very often from people that your child probably knows! Kids need to be educated to stay away from apps that allow anonymous messages to be sent.” – Aalia
Don’t be rash.
“Parents need to find out the complete issue before reacting towards the cyberbullied child. Encourage them and develop their self-confidence, and help them realize that this isn’t their fault.” – Momina
Save the evidence.
“Very often, kids and teens are so scared by the cyberbully and the messages they receive that they delete the only proof there is of the act. That’s one thing both parents and youngsters need to learn not to do. Keep those screenshots. Keep the mails or messages. Kids need to keep whatever proof they have and hand it over to their parents first. The right authorities – school or university – need to be informed about it and must handle the situation delicately. Have this conversation with your child.” – Reem
We hope that these will help you get a different, more relevant perspective on how cyberbullying should be dealt with when it happens to a child. This is just a fraction of the various ways online bullying can be stopped or reduced. Let’s keep educating ourselves and those around us so that we may truly become a #CyberSafeCyberHappy nation!
For further guidance or information on this topic or announcements on our future workshops (for students or parents), follow us on Instagram.