Preventing Cyberbullying 101
  • Post last modified:October 5, 2020
  • Post category:safety tips

Bullying has been going on in schools for years. While anti-bullying initiatives have made it better, it still exists. But kids today have even a tougher time, as it occurs online now too. Meaning some kids have no escape from the taunting and ridicule as it has spilled over into their digital life. As a parent, this can be heartbreaking to watch, but there are ways you can help prevent cyberbullying.  

Tips to Keep Your Kids and Teens Safe Online

It seems as soon as parents find a way to monitor their child’s online activities, a new app is created to help hide it. The Connect Safely Organization offers the following tips to help keep your children safe in the digital age. 

Bar graph showing the percentages of people who are cyberbullied on each social media platform.
  1. Know that it’s not your fault. What people call “bullying” is sometimes an argument between two people. But if someone is repeatedly cruel to you, that’s bullying, and you mustn’t blame yourself. No one deserves to be treated cruelly.
  2. Don’t respond or retaliate. Sometimes a reaction is exactly what aggressors are looking for because they think it gives them power over you. You don’t want to empower a bully. As for retaliating, getting back at a bully turns you into one – and can turn one mean act into a chain reaction. If you can, remove yourself from the situation. If you can’t, sometimes humor disarms or distracts a person from bullying.
  3. Save the evidence. The only good news about bullying online or on phones is that it can usually be captured, saved, and shown to someone who can help. You can save that evidence in case things escalate.
  4. Tell the person to stop. This is entirely up to you. Don’t do it if you don’t feel comfortable doing it. It’s essential to make your position completely clear that you will not stand for this treatment anymore. You may need to practice beforehand with someone you trust, like a parent or a good friend.
  5. Reach out for help especially if the behavior’s really getting to you. You deserve backup. See if there’s someone who can listen, help you process what’s going on, and work through it – a friend, relative, or maybe an adult you trust.
  6. Use available tech tools. Most social media apps and services allow you to block the person. Whether the harassment’s in an app, texting, comments, or tagged photos, do yourself a favor and block the person. You can also report the problem to the service. That probably won’t end it, but you don’t need the harassment in your face, and you’ll be less tempted to respond. If you’re getting threats of physical harm, you should call your local police (with a parent or guardian’s help) and consider reporting it to school authorities.
  7. Protect your accounts. Don’t share your passwords with anyone, not even your closest friends, who may not be close forever. Be sure to password-protect your phone so no one can use it to impersonate you. You’ll find advice at passwords.connectsafely.org.
  8. If someone you know is being bullied, take action. Just standing by can empower an aggressor and does nothing to help. The best thing you can do is try to stop the bullying by taking a stand against it. If you can’t stop it, support the person being bullied. If the person’s a friend, you can listen and see how to help. Consider together whether you should report the bullying. If you’re not already friends, even a kind word can help reduce the pain. At the very least, help by not passing along a mean message and not giving positive attention to the person doing the bullying.

You can find additional advice for parents here

Person holding their smartphone with their finger hovering over WhatsApp.

At the End of the Day

It’s crucial to work with your school officials and those in your community to provide a safe space for children of ages to communicate openly to trusted adults. Often victims of cyberbullying may be afraid to tell a trusted adult about their problems and may not have the support they need at home.

Kids are exposed to a lot of content daily on their phones, tablets, and other smart devices. Have an open discussion to them about cyberbullying, and if they do see something online about themselves or another peer, remind them to bring it to your attention. This way, it can be reported to the proper authorities and potentially even save a life.