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Before many in-person classes went online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, school bullying used to occur in face-to-face settings, on the school grounds, or in classrooms.
But did you know there is one huge problem that awaits parents in this new normal?
It’s cyberbullying. Some questions to ask:
Does cyberbullying have a more emotional and psychological impact than face to face bullying? How will it affect your kids? How can you avoid it?
As a parent myself, I have experienced cyberbullying and it is excruciatingly painful to see your child being affected emotionally, mentally, and psychologically.
Together let’s explore the ways how we can protect our children from bullies sitting in front of their computers.
First of all, what is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is when a person attacks another person using the internet. This can be a merciless prank or a false rumor that embarrasses the person.
A false and embarrassing rumor can spread like wildfire among classmates and can affect your child’s education and especially his or her mental health.
The worse part is that the victim can’t hide anywhere. In fact, they are most likely at home, in their supposed safe space.
If the bullying is done during online classes, it is something that your child needs to attend to immediately- there is no escape.
According to the Community for Accredited Online Schools, this is what cyberbullying looks like, classified into different types:
- Flaming- posting derogatory comments on a chat room, chat groups, and social media page. In short, it is a straightforward online altercation using foul language.
- Outing – sharing a person’s private information (photos, conversations) in order to humiliate and embarrass a person.
- Impersonation – when a cyberbully gains access to the victim’s account, pretends to be the victim, and posts inappropriate content.
- Cyberstalking – the act of repeatedly harassing an individual.
- Harassment – the continuous sending of spiteful, offensive, or insulting messages to a person.
- Trolling– “the deliberate act of provoking a response through the use of some type of inflammatory statements — such as using insults and bad language — in an online forum.” – Arsenault
Cyberbullying is as painful as face-to-face bullying. Physical wounds may heal but hurtful words and trauma can take years in therapy for victims to move on.
How do you protect your child from cyberbullying during online classes?
- Monitor your children’s online classes, but do not meddle. Call the attention of the teacher or the professor if you see that your child is being bullied.
- Teach your child how to use the internet responsibly.
- Explain how important it is to keep their accounts private, such as not giving their passwords to friends.
- Teach your child to be resilient, and how to not give the bully satisfaction. Block the bully right away and ignore him/her.
- Ensure your children that you are an important part of their safe space, that you will never judge them no matter the circumstances, and that they can tell you everything.
- Save the evidence right away if you need to take further action.
- Investigate and know who your children are making friends with online and in his/her class.
- Teach them how to treat others on how they want to be treated and to always be courteous. An online fight is a sometimes two-way street and it is better to be safe and to stay away from the problem.
Let your children know there is a world outside the internet, and no matter what happens – you will be there for them.
Take them out for walks in the park, road trips, or play sports in your yard. This will lessen the time your child is online and help give their eyes a break for being in front of screens for so long during classes.
It can be a cruel world that we live in and we fight tooth and nail to keep our children safe. During this modern era, if we are being vigilant and mindful, we are one step ahead.