When it comes to cyberbullying, parents play a critical role in identifying a problem, attaining details of the issue from the child, and enacting a solution. Victims of cyberbullying can be difficult to identify, and a bit of sternness and some rules can help to fully address the problem as quickly as possible.
One specific scenario of concern is children who move to new towns and schools, a common situation which tends to put a “target” on the child’s back as the “new kid.” Often, a parent’s job is the reason for the move, but a new job must not distract either parent from spotting potential effects of bullying in their child.
Why Parents Need to Take Cyberbullying Seriously
According to one Cyberbullying Research Center study, approximately 34 percent of students aged 11 to 14 reported being cyberbullied in their lifetime. While cases vary in extremity, the effects of cyberbullying are unfailingly negative, ranging from lowered self-esteem to suicide. For parents, a sudden change in their child’s demeanor should not be ignored, as it could possibly — though not necessarily — mean that they have become a victim of cyberbullying.
The life of a parent is hectic, and children can be moody for no apparent reason. Still, with the prevalence of technology in today’s society, parents must be vigilant regarding their child’s online activities, and more importantly their demeanor in traditional communication
A recent move can strain normal family interactions while adding a whole new slate of responsibilities which must be tended to. However, the potentially lifelong consequences of cyberbullying on a child mean that its effects must be constantly monitored.
Creating a Structured Yet Comfortable Home
Much of parents’ inattentiveness often arises from a lack of routine in the home. If patterns of interaction, rule-making, and familial communication are not consistent, how can one expect their child’s moods and behaviors to be?
As part of consistent, unequivocal communication between parent and child, Kid Guard recommends that parents let their child know that their devices are not the personal property of the child. This premise will help to foster further open communication about what the child may be doing — and the issues they are potentially facing — while using social media on the device.
For many children, particularly those in a new school and hometown, using social media may be part of fitting in. It is fine to allow social media use, with some caveats. Lay down these rules, and enforce them consistently. The structure actually provides a sense of stability for child, calming them as they don’t have to make decisions about when to stop using their phone or computer.
It is important that children know why rules are being put in place, and that restrictions on technology — as well as open communication about their online activity — are for their own good. A child whose self-esteem is too dependent on online interaction is more susceptible to bullying’s effects, so establishing usage limits is important as a parent.
The home, particularly if a child is still establishing new friends after a move, must be a bastion for examples of fair consistency, honest communication, and love. Once a home embodies this, with the parents setting the example, a child will be less likely to be impacted by cyber bullying and more likely to tell their parents about a problem when it does arise
Cyberbullying is nearly impossible for parents to stop, but that does not mean they are helpless against its effects. Parents must be in tune with their child’s demeanor while taking the necessary steps to create a healthy home where open communication is prevalent. Consistent, fair rules about technology use will help a child develop a more well-rounded sense of self, with less of their self-esteem tied to social media.