Cyberbullying has been getting more and more attention in the media and in schools, and is a prevalent issue within our society. As a counselor who works with children and adolescents, I often come across clients experiencing issues that result from cyberbullying. If you’re a parent or work with teens or children, it’s important to be educated about cyberbullying, its effects, and how to stop it.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is the use of digital devices, such as phones, computers, tablets, and video game systems, to bully others. Cyberbullies send messages to their victims using SMS, text messages, apps, social media, and gaming systems. Statistics show that cyberbullying is a big problem in the United States. In fact, more than one in three young people report being the victim of cyberbullying. Part of why this issue is so prevalent is that bullies can remain anonymous while targeting their victims. This allows them to write things they might not ordinarily say in person and can often make it difficult to catch them.
What are the Effects of Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying can have devastating consequences, including low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression; it can even lead to suicide. Part of why it has such an effect on its victims is that they have no escape. These adolescents and young adults are often verbally and physically bullied at school, and then come home to more bullying when they are using their digital devices.
What Can Parents Do About Cyberbullying?
Unfortunately, statistics show that children and young adults who are the victims of cyberbullying are not likely to tell their parents about it. Parents should monitor their children’s social media accounts for signs that they are either being bullied, or are bullying others. They should also speak with their children about cyberbullying and let them know they can confide in them if they are being bullied. Parents may want to consider developing a digital device contract that outlines to children how to use their phones, tablets, and computers responsibly. This contract should also describe consequences for not following these rules.
Parents who know that their children are being cyberbullied should help them gain access to counseling. A therapist can help address the low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression that often come about as a result. If you are interested in counseling services for your child, check out our locations to find a program near you, or contact our admissions department for assistance.