Advice on Recognizing and Preventing Cyberbullying

May 27, 2016

A few days ago, a friend of mine told me that one of her friends on Facebook had posted a very mean hate post on her wall leading to other hateful comments on the post. This significantly caused her emotional harm and to question her well being for just being online and using social media.

This is just one example of cyberbullying. People are able to use online tools, apps, and social platforms to harass and harm others. Cyberbullying is a real problem that goes unnoticed on the web and unreported in many instances.

Having a smartphone, tablet, or laptop and being in constant communication is common for kids and teens today. This leaves them open to cyberbullying, but not to be too worried, as a parent there are steps you can take to prevent cyberbullying. You should have an open discussion on how to handle online bullying and harassment with your kids and be a support system for them to come talk to you about any such incident. Before talking to your child it is important to have an understanding of what is considered cyberbullying, the potential impacts it can have, and how to handle bullying if it should occur.

A Look at What Can Count as Cyberbullying:

  • Mean/Hate text messages, emails, chats, and/or posts on social media
  • Rumors posted on social media
  • Purposefully distributing embarrassing pictures and/or videos
  • Stalking of the individual on social media
  • Physical threats through text messages, emails, chats and/or posts on social media

Quick Facts on Cyberbullying:

Ways to Handle Cyberbullying:

First of all, it is important to recognize that you or your child is being bullied online. The best way to recognize cyberbullying is by understanding what it is and it’s forms online and then teaching your kids that. The next step in preventing cyberbullying is to set up privacy controls so that your stuff is only visible to your friends. It is also effective to utilize the online tools of removing posts and comments that are harmful in nature, and blocking the bullies/harassers.

Those who have been bullied or harassed online should not respond back to the bully or harasser as this will just further the cycle and can lead to more cyberbullying and harassment. Ignoring it is a common way most people handle cyberbullying which may work to a certain extent but isn’t the only thing you can do.

For parents, it is important to be aware of what your kid does online and make them understand to be open with you if they are ever bullied or harassed so you can help support them through the situation. A final piece of advice is to report the cyberbullying to the online service provider and/or law enforcement.

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Written by

Mahdi Khan

Mahdi is an intern for Family Online Safety Institute. He is a junior at American University, double majoring in an interdisciplinary major of Communications, Legal, Economics, and Government studies (CLEG) and a major of Political Science, while also minoring in Information Systems and Technology. He is particularly interested in the development of the internet and technology and the beneficial influences it can have in all aspects of people’s lives. Mahdi intends to pursue a law degree after graduation. In addition to his interests and goals, he loves swimming, playing sports, and enjoying all the world has to offer.