Children who are bored by long periods at home can pick at each other, and that happens online too. So it is important to keep an eye out for cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying behaviour can include mean posts, comments and messages about a child, or deliberately leaving them out of online group activities. Cyberbullying can make social isolation worse and the longer it continues, the more stressed the child can become, impacting on their emotional and physical wellbeing.
Here are some helpful tips
- Remember, when they are away from school, children have less access to their usual support systems including friends, teachers and counsellors.
- Talk to your child about cyberbullying before it happens. Together you can work out strategies to address potential issues and reassure them you will be there to offer support.
Watch out for signs such as your child or teen appearing upset or anxious after using their mobile, tablet or computer, being unusually secretive about their online activities or becoming withdrawn.
What can I do if my child is being cyberbullied?
As a parent, your first instinct may be to ban your child from social media, disable the wi-fi or turn off the data access. But this could make the problem worse by making your child feel as if they are being punished and heightening their sense of social exclusion.
There are five simple steps that can help minimise harm
- Listen, think, stay calm — talk about what happened, try to remain open and non judgemental, ask your child how they feel and ensure they feel heard.
- Collect evidence of the cyberbullying material — it is a good idea to collect evidence, such as screenshots, of the bullying behaviour, in case you need to report it later on
- Report the cyberbullying to the social media service where it is occurring — many social media services, games, apps and websites allow you to report abusive content and request that it is removed
- Block the offending user — advise your child and others not to respond to bullying messages as this can inflame the situation. Help your child block or unfriend the person sending the messages.
- Get help and support — check in with your child regularly about how they are feeling. If you notice any changes that concern you, get help through an online or telephone counselling and support service.