• Anita Dennison

Parents Guide To Cyberbullying

Many of you may be of the "non-social media generation", so when you hear statements like "cyberbullying is at an all-time high." You may think, what is cyberbullying? Can it happen to my son/daughter? To answer your queries I am writing this blog to keep you informed of the different ways bullying occurs online and more importantly how YOU as a parent can look out for possible signs of cyberbullying.

To continue writing this blog I believe it is only right to explain to you all what exactly 'cyberbullying' is. Cyberbullying can present itself in any of the following 10 ways;

Sending threatening messages to a mobile phoneMaking hoax or abusive callsTaking embarrassing images or videosPosting embarrassing images/videos onlineLeaving hurtful/threatening messages onlineStealing someone's online identity in order to cause them troubleDeliberately excluding people from online groupsSetting up hate pages against an individualVoting for someone in an insulting online poll‘sexting’ a form of text that tries to pressure an individual into sexual acts.

I don't want that definition to scare you, although it is normal to startle those who may be unaware of what cyberbullying is.

Many of us say to ourselves, cyberbullying won't come to my door, I hear it on the news but that's it. If you are thinking this way... STOP!! Unfortunately, cyberbullying can happen to ANYone at ANYtime. Cyberbullying came to my door, the reason I am writing this blog is because I didn't know if my parents knew what cyberbullying was or how they could deal with it.

Here is a brief outline of my own experience of cyberbullying;

After an incident which occurred at my school (which was dealt with superbly), I was singled out by cyberbullies who callously launched a campaign of hate against me lasting a year. I never did find out who set up the anonymous accounts on Facebook which were then used to post taunts about me. Neither to this day do I know why I was singled out for the abuse. I had amazing support and it did come to an end. It started out of nowhere with people setting up fake accounts and writing about me online. It made me feel really down about myself. I was only 16 when all of this occurred.

The signs I recommend that you look out for are the following;

Your son or daughter suddenly spends much more or much less time on social media or on their mobiles than usual. Any rapid change could be an alarm bell.After using social media or their mobile phones they suddenly become withdrawn or upset.A sudden lack of enjoyment for formerly enjoyable situations.They are frustrated, upset or simply act out more.

Any sudden change that you witness in your child could be an alarm bell.

My advice on what you should do if you discover that your son or daughter is being bullied online or offline.

Listen to your child without getting angry or upset (human reaction to protect our loved ones) children are more open when they see that their loved ones aren't getting upset.Ask them how they would like this situation brought forward, give them control. Put them in the driving seat.Constantly reassure your child that it is NOT their fault.Encourage your child to be themselves at all times. Try role play in order to get your child to feel confident within their own skin again. Constantly reassure them that you ARE THERE. Might seem like nothing but this has such a vital importance to many people out there.

I hope this post was of some help to you. If you need further advice for your young person or even for yourself, tweet @bully_dont and I'll do my best to help you out :)

Anita xx

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