What to do if you suspect your child is being cyberbullied

Smartphones and the Internet have allowed us to connect and communicate with each other more than ever before. Unfortunately, this also gives bullies more ways to harass and target their victim. A 2017 Ofcom report shows that 1 in 8 young people say they have been bullied on social media.
As parents, carers and guardians of young people, it’s important to be aware of the growing impact of smartphones on children, for better and for worse. Here’s a guide on how to spot the signs of cyberbullying, and what to do next.

Look out for the signs
A child might be reluctant to admit they are being cyberbullied, if they are afraid of the harassment getting worse, or because they feel ashamed. If you are worried that your child may be a victim of cyberbullying, these are some of the signs to look out for:
·         Being afraid to go to school
·         Trouble eating or sleeping
·         Irregular smartphone or computer use
·         Becoming suddenly withdrawn, anxious, or unsociable
There is no one clear sign that indicates a child is being cyberbullied, but having a better understanding of the warning signs can help parents make an informed decision.

Start a conversation with your child
If changes in their behaviour give you a reason to suspect your child is a victim of cyberbullying, it’s important not to jump to conclusions. Approach the subject carefully – asking outright questions like “Are you being cyberbullied?” are unlikely to receive a response.
The conversation may differ depending on how old and mature your child is; you may need to explain what cyberbullying means first. Most importantly, let them know that you’re in their corner, and there will always be help and support available to them.

Teach them how to stay safe online
Revoking internet or smartphone privileges won’t stop the cyberbullying, and may make your child more reluctant to tell you what’s happening in their lives. Instead, teach your child how to browse the web and use social media responsibly. There are plenty of resources available online tailored for different age groups, which show helpful information such as how to avoid mature content and report upsetting content on social media.

You can also consider using parental control and monitoring apps. As well as keeping an eye on your child’s internet usage, these apps can also start wider conversations with your child about staying safe online.

- collaborative post.

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