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If Your Child is Being Bullied Online Do These 3 Things Immediately

digital parenting online bullying parenting Jan 21, 2021

Conversations on Cyberbullying You Can Have with Your Child in Minutes

More and more our kids are spending time on screens for both school and leisure activities.  Instead of the typical hangout at the local playground, kids are now socializing online. Group chats, online hangouts, video calls between kids are now the norm. And with these changes the chances of online bullying are increasing.

If your child has faced online bullying, you may have noticed that they wonder why they're being singled out. Understandably, your child feels hurt and bullying lowers their self-esteem. The following are steps you can take when your child is being bullied online. They are conversations that should take place within the next couple of hours after the incident occurred.

In our household, we follow digital contracts. A digital contract is an agreement between parents and child for safe technology use.

One of our main rules is the moment someone says something hurtful online, you let me know.  This way, your child is forthright that something is wrong.

3 Immediate Steps to Take When Your Child is Being Bullied Online 

1. Remind Your Child This Isn't Real Life

… it’s happening online. And online only.

It’s easy to misinterpret things said online as being mean. Because of this, online bullies may not realize that what they're saying is coming across as hurtful. The Wall Street Journal reports people tend to forget they're speaking out loud when they're posting online. When writing something from a smartphone it seems almost like you're talking only to yourself and forget others feelings.

Have your child disconnect from their device, and ask your child to describe their immediate surroundings. Start with the room you're in. Have them describe the things that are happening around them, and objects in the room, as a way of bringing them into the present moment. 

2. Take a Screen Break

Get your child offline. Encourage outside play as a way to blow off steam. An immediate reply to a mean message, or spending more time in conflict, is only going to create further upset and invite more bullying. Encourage your child, and yourself, to take the time to cool off and get some perspective on the issue.

Taking a break from screens helps your child balance their digital and real-world life. Screen breaks ease anxiety, increase happiness and allow your child to connect more with those directly involved in their lives.

” Taking a break from the screen will help you bring balance to your digital and real-world lives. Soaking up real-time instead of screen time will ease anxiety, increase happiness, and allow you to connect more with the people in your life.”

3. Connect Your Child With a Friend

It’s no secret that friendships enrich our lives and improve your health. Encourage your child to have a playdate. If restrictions don't allow, arrange a FaceTime hangout. Set up a call between your child and a friend who isn’t directly involved in the online bullying.

Dr. David Merrill, PhD, recommends video calls as a suitable option for connection.

Allowing one of your child's friends to step in, could give some perspective on what happened and allows them to problem-solve with the help of their peers. 

Immediate Action Steps for Parents Following Online Bullying

With your child, discuss the option of leaving the online group causing issues.  At this point, you can encourage your child to address issues with the friend group or block the bullies online. This will help put space between your child and her bullies.

You might find that removing your child from the group entirely, allows your child to gain their power back. Children who bully tend to approach the child later on to ask why they got in trouble. Some bullies may try to manipulate the situation by accusing your child of tattling. Remember, your child has a right to be safe, feel wanted and valued. Give your child the opportunity to be strong and ask others not to bully them.

In the days following the bullying incident, remind your child they never have to be desperate to keep friends. Kids can be mean and it's not your child's job to teach them otherwise.

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