Imagine a classmate posts a photo of themselves online. Someone else makes a mean, mocking comment about the photo. Soon, that photo has been shared, liked, reposted—even made into a meme. Thousands of people have seen it, even people the person being targeted doesn’t know. That’s why cyberbullying can be extra hurtful: it’s public, it spreads quickly, and it’s 24/7.
It is important to understand how children are cyberbullied so it can be easily recognized and action can be taken.
Digital media and apps allow children to communicate and express their creativity, connect with peers, and share their feelings. However, they can be an avenue through which cyberbullying occurs. There are many types of apps and sites available for free that give users the ability to search for people and share or post information about them anonymously.
Parents may not be aware of the apps that their children use regularly or may not be aware of the risks involved in using them. There are many ways that cyberbullying can be hidden in apps and sites, such as texts, videos, and web calls that disappear or do not appear on the device’s call or text message logs.
When cyberbullying happens, it is important to document and report the behavior so it can be addressed.
Parents create trust with children by initiating open, honest discussions. These dialogues are an opportunity to communicate values and expectations about your family’s appropriate digital behavior, including viewing or sharing content, and apps they can and cannot use.
The digital world is constantly evolving with new social media platforms, apps, and devices, and children and teens are often the first to use them. Some negative things that may occur include cyberbullying, sexting, posting hateful messages or content, and participating in negative group conversations. If your child posts harmful or negative content online, it may not only harm other children; it can affect their online reputation, which can have negative implications for their employment or college admission.