You walk into the living room. Your child quickly hides their phone.
You know exactly what they’re up to. That look of shame on their face confirms it — they’re looking at something inappropriate. You get them to give you their phone, but what you find is a horribly embarrassing picture of them on Instagram. It has a lot of likes and a LOT of mean comments from kids in your child’s class (you didn’t know kids that age knew those words yet). You find out your child has a nickname, too, and it’s not a nice one. The other kids seem to know it well.
Cyber bullying Warning Signs
Cyberbullying doesn’t come with the same bruises, tears, and teacher notes that schoolyard bullying does
Cyberbullying doesn’t come with the same bruises, tears, and teacher notes that schoolyard bullying does. It’s a much more insidious and hard-to-spot. In fact, many of the signs of cyberbullying seem benign, attributable to something else, or even positive. For example, if your child has a lot of new Facebook friends this week, your first instinct might be, “Somebody’s popular!” — when actually those new “friends” are kids who want the opportunity to spread abuse on your child’s wall.
If your child suddenly starts spending more or less time on their phone or computer, it’s worth a conversation
Here are signs that your child might be experiencing cyberbullying:
- Sudden Variations In Device Use
- Deleting Accounts
- Asking How To Block Others
- Many New Contacts
- Strong Shifts After Social Media
- Decreased Self-Esteem
- Change in Physical Habits
If your child suddenly starts spending more or less time on their phone or computer, it’s worth a conversation. A child’s interest naturally waxes and wanes, through, which underscores our main point: you have to pay attention to your child to know the context for these signs.
When social media turns sour, many teens opt to delete their account. Consider this a serious sign — they’ve admitted they don’t have the resources to fight back against the bullies and just want to escape it. The abuse is bad enough for them to give up all their connections.
When was the last time your child or teen came to you for help? Needless to say, if they’re asking for Mom or Dad’s assistance with something social-media related, it means they’ve exhausted their friends — and Google — as options. Find out why your child is asking.
Like we mentioned earlier, a lot of new friends doesn’t mean “a lot of new friends.” It’s worth mentioning the sudden surge of connections to your child and seeing what’s behind it. If they’re “not sure,” that’s a cue to probe deeper.
Seeing your child visibly changed after they go on social media is a good indication they’re drawing a lot of emotions from their online activities. Pay attention to how they seem when they close their laptop or put their phone away. That will tell you a lot about what their experience is like.
Comments like “life feels meaningless,” “I feel depressed,” and “people suck” are strong indicators that your child is having difficulty with their peers online. “Tell me what’s up” is a good response to any of those annunciations. Sometimes that dip in self-worth will be evident in their posture, tone, or something else less obvious. Always be watching.
Less eating, less sleeping, more reason for you to be concerned that your child is being cyberbullied. If they’re nervous or jumpy when using their phones or computers: more to the point.
Your child’s social media experience is a multitude of relationships and emotions
One-word answers are the biggest red flag of all. Your child’s social media experience is a multitude of relationships and emotions. If they sum up their social media day as “good” or “fine,” press further. At best, you’ll get more details on what’s fine or good in your child’s life. At worst, they’ll reveal that life online is not good and fine — and from there, you can step in.
Normally, you’re the one to send your child to their room. If their social media use makes them shut-off and mum, that’s your permission to invade their privacy. They’re implicitly asking you to get involved.
Where To Get Help
- See KwickLook’s Tips For Parents for ideas on how to reach out to your child when they’re experiencing cyber bullying
- School counselors and principals
- Cyber bullying research center
Remember, so much of your ability to sight and prevent cyber bullying depends on keeping daily tabs on your child’s online activity. Consider a free 14-day trial of KwickLook to get you started.
Learn more about our guest expert:
Chuck Chesler, Founder of KwickLook
Chuck Chesler is the founder of KwickLook and a parent of two teenagers. He holds a BS in Business Administration from Pace University and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s OPM Program. Chuck has lectured at Central Connecticut State University on Entrepreneurship and Leadership and lives in Norwalk, CT where he is a mentor in the Norwalk Board Of Education’s Mentoring Program and A Big Brother.