Kids socialise very differently these days. A lot of it takes place on the internet, a world that can be very hard to monitor as a parent. Due to the remote nature of the internet, it may be less obvious that your child is being subjected to cyberbullying, so be sure to watch for symptoms and talk to your child if you have any concerns.
Cyberbullying can be an extension of bullying and involves the use of email, chat room or social media site messaging on the internet, and text, picture and or video messaging on mobile phones. Unfortunately, it means victims can be bullied even when they're not at school, leaving children very few places to hide. Often, children may be scared to confide in their parents regarding cyberbullying, worried they'll have their computer rights restricted, or their mobile taken away.
Symptoms can include:
- Excessive computer use
- Troubled sleep or nightmares
- Anti-social behaviour
- Anxiety after using the computer
- Not answering their mobile phone or checking messages
Tips for talking to your child about cyberbullying:
- Educate your child about cyberbullying and reinforce which types of online behaviour are acceptable, and which are not
- Advise them only to give their mobile number and personal email to friends
- Suggest your child takes some time off from the computer or their mobile phone
- Encourage your child to avoid opening emails from cyberbullies or responding to bullies on Facebook or SMS Encourage them only to talk to people they've met in person
- Suggest they block the bullies from their Facebook account
- Important – In a number of cyberbullying related youth suicides parents have said they had no idea that their child was even being cyberbullied – they had not told them. Kids are concerned that if they tell their parents about cyber issues their technology will be taken away which will make the issue worse and sadly they opt for suicide as a solution. Tell your child if they ever have an issue in this space they can talk to you without the fear of losing their computer rights or having their mobile taken away.
What to do next:
- Move your family computer to a public place so you can monitor the times they're online, and their anxiety levels and insist they access their smart phone in the same space.
- Contact the police if the messages are threatening
What to do if your child has been a victim of cyberbullying?
In the event your child has been a victim of cyberbullying, parents can seek assistance from the following services:
- Parentline QLD & NT - 1300 30 1300
- Parentline VIC - 13 22 89
- Parent Helpline SA - 1300 364 100
- Parent Line NSW - 13 20 55
- Parent Help Centre WA - (08) 92721466 or 1800 654 432
- ParentLink ACT - (02) 6205 8800
Young people are encouraged to call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800