So, you’ve spoken to your child or teen about how to stand up to bullying. However, as we’re all well aware, plenty of bullying happens online. So how does standing up to a bully work when it happens in cyberspace?
It’s true that the online world has some unique challenges. But it’s also true that it has some advantages too. If your child is getting bullied over social media, it’s very easy for your child to block their bully. Make sure your child or teen understands that they are not obliged to tolerate bullies and that they’re free to manage access to their social media pages. In fact, it’s a good idea to review privacy settings on your child’s social media to make sure that they’re as tight as can be.
Most social media organisations have ways of reporting bullying. Discuss these with your child and make sure that they understand there’s no shame in reporting a bully.
The same rules of assertiveness that work on bullies in real life can work online. For example, if a bully comments on a picture on your child’s Facebook page with “This dress is ugly and so are you”, you child might respond, “Stacey, stop leaving mean-spirited comments on my pictures.”
Your child doesn’t have to be the target of a cyberbully in order to stand up to one. Say the above is directed at someone else your child knows. Your child might post, “Stacey, what you wrote isn’t true. Don’t be mean.” Or, your child might reach out privately to the victim. Victims of cyberbullying sometimes feel that the mean things their bullies write is true or that no one likes them and your child can help by proving these fears false. Also, your child can help encourage victims to take actions like blocking their bully or speaking to a trusted adult.
Take It Offline
People say and do things online that they wouldn’t offline. Confronted with a bully like that, your child might choose to call attention to their bullying when they’re face to face. “Stacey, last night you called me ugly on Facebook. Stop doing that.” Bullies thrive when people let them.
Don’t Join In
Another quirk of bullying online is that it can get messy fast. An insult on someone’s Facebook page can quickly turn into dozens of teens writing nasty things to each other. Your child or teen should know that sometimes engaging with that kind of out of control situation can result in your child or teen bullying someone else.
The Bottom Line
Of course, you should still know how to watch for cyberbullying and how to help your child if they are cyberbullied. However, it’s also important for your child or teen to learn how to handle bullies on their own. With these strategies, they’ll be able to navigate the online world with more confidence.
If you need more information on cyberbullying, be sure to visit our cyberbullying resource page.