Cyberbullying is one of the newest, most concerning forms of bullying and takes place on social media sites and apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Cyberbullying is defined as tormenting, threatening, harassing or embarrassing another person using the internet or other technologies, like cell phones. While it is nearly impossible to keep your child completely off the internet and away from a cell phone, you can teach your child how to handle cyberbullying if they see it.
To help prevent cyberbullying, talk to your children about how much time they spend on social media, privacy settings, and choosing friends wisely and how to block unfriendly individuals. You want to create an open line of communication so your child feels comfortable talking to you if they experience or witness bullying. Individuals who are being cyberbullied should not respond to offensive emails, texts or social media posts made by the bully. They should also enlist the help of parents and/or teachers, and save evidence so school officials, internet providers or police can deal with the situation properly. For parents, it is important to let your kids’ teachers know if cyberbullying is occurring, as it is usually an extension of bullying that is already taking place at school.
Sometimes bullies will post videos or pictures of their actions online because they are looking for recognition from others.
Cyberbullying can be just as harmful as face-to-face bullying, therefore it is important for parents to monitor their child’s cell phone and internet activity, and if excessive harassment is suspected, it may be time to contact a medical professional. Fortunately, more and more efforts toward bullying prevention and intervention have been initiated throughout the country. Here in the community, Cone Health has an exceptional network of behavioral health specialists, pediatricians and other related medical professionals dedicated to educating and counseling children and families on bullying and how to intervene if it becomes a problem.
Mack Whitsett is the Assistant Director of child and adolescent behavioral health at the Cone Health Behavioral Health hospital. Mack received his Bachelor of Arts in psychology and his Bachelor of Science in nursing from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 2007 and 2009, respectively.