What To Do When Your Kid Is The Cyberbully

Oct 13, 2016

If you’re reading this, you’re probably concerned that your child is a cyberbully. It’s important for you to remember, this does not make you a bad parent. In fact, by reaching out for resources to support your child, you’re acting to end the pain of bullying. According to recent research, 10-20% of students bully over the internet so you are not alone!

Cyberbullying statistics report over half of young people report being cyberbullied. According to stopbullying.gov:

“Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites.”

Some examples of cyberbullying include:

  • Sending harassing or hurtful text messages or emails
  • Posting embarrassing pictures or videos of others
  • Spreading rumors on social media

Cyberbullying is different from other types of bullying. It can be more emotionally damaging, in some cases, than face to face bullying due to the 24/7 accessibility. Therefore, traditional consequences are not recommended. We must remember children and adolescents are not yet fully emotionally developed. They are impulsive, they don’t necessarily consider the consequences for their behaviors or the impact it may have on another person. Consider this an opportunity to help your child understand their behaviors and how to modify them - a healthier alternative for everyone.

If you discover your child is bullying his/her peers online, here are some suggestions:

  • Confront the behavior - in a kind and compassionate manner, address the bullying directly with your child. Provide examples of what you’ve seen or suspect is bullying and explain to them why it’s bullying and that it’s unacceptable. It may also be valuable to ask your child to explain to you what they’ve done. This will help to open up communication and trust and also provide additional insight from their perspective.
  • Teach empathy - this is a perfect opportunity to help your child develop or strengthen their empathy skills. Ask your child “how do you think this made the other person feel?”, “how would you feel if someone did this to you?”.
  • Explain consequences - your child may not be aware of the seriousness of their actions. Help them to understand the social, emotional and sometimes legal consequences of cyberbullying.
  • Increase online monitoring - move computers to a centrally located position in the house and provide stricter guidelines on when your child can be online. This will decrease the accessibility and likely interrupt the bullying cycle. Consider purchasing a parental control software that monitors and sends alerts on social media activity, like Net Nanny Social.
  • Provide support - lovingly, attempt to engage your child in a conversation around their intentions and why they engaged in cyberbullying. Is he/she being bullied themselves? Are they feeling emotionally fragile? Provide reassurance that you, as the parent, are there to help and support them.
  • Seek professional help - if your child expresses emotionally instability or has difficulty ceasing their bullying behavior, consider seeking professional help through the guidance counselor, community mental health or private counseling.

For more information on how to stop cyberbullying click here to review a recent post on 6 Proven Ways to Stop Cyberbullying.