Are you familiar with the word?
You may be. You may have encountered this term in this age of digital media and online classes.
But do you know exactly what is cyberbullying?
This article explains the term, its effects and indications, and how to help students who are being cyberbullied.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is the act of harassing, threatening, embarrassing, or targeting an individual using technology. It harms people and also is against the law.
This harassment could happen on social media, gaming apps and devices, computers, etc. Cyberbullying can take place through texts, tweets, posts, pictures, videos, publicly posting someone’s personal information, etc. You can consider anything that is posted online with the intention of hurting someone to be cyberbullying.
This way of online bullying is extremely hurtful, as the person remains anonymous and does it behind a screen. You have no control over what the person says or does; the victim is clueless about how many people have access to their information.
It is very easy for people to use cyberbullying to torment someone because the bully can do it without having to confront the victim.
Effects of cyberbullying
Cyberbullying can really have serious effects on an individual’s mental health. In this age of the internet and digital technology, a child is constantly around devices, so escaping cyberbullying becomes very difficult. They feel these effects very strongly.
Cyberbullying usually leads to anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders because of the intimidation the child faces. There have been a few cases where this oppression has crossed the line and led to suicide. It is a grave issue and really takes a toll on a child.
What are some signs that a student is facing cyberbullying?
Most often, a child being bullied doesn’t share the concerns with their teachers or parents. This fact could be either due to fear or because they are ashamed. Hence, teachers and parents should be attentive to catching the signs of cyberbullying.
There are a few ways that you can identify a cyberbully victim:
- The child is upset either after or during using the internet or their phone.
- They are starting to “act out” and express unusual anger.
- They have no interest or are withdrawing from their friends, teachers, or parents.
- The child is feeling nervous or panicking after getting any notification.
- They are avoiding any discussions or talks about technological activities.
- They are suddenly being very secretive and private about their life.
What can teachers do to help students?
A teacher plays a crucial role in a child's life, second only to the parents. Further, children tend to spend half of their day interacting with their classmates and teachers. Hence, teachers can help students who are facing cyberbullying.
It is vital that a child feels heard and understood when going through something like this. They tend to keep things to themselves, and getting them to open up can seem to be a task. Hence, you must understand what the child is going through and help them handle it.
Here are a few ways teachers can help a victim going through cyberbullying:
You must offer comfort and support to the victim. They should feel that they are not alone. It makes it easier for them to open up when you are welcoming and comforting to them.
Notify the authorities.
If there is a case of cyberbullying, then make sure to talk to the principal or a counselor regarding the same.
Many schools have rules placed against cyberbullying that are followed very strictly. They will take action against the perpetrator student. Make sure to inform the victim about the same so that they know the exact plan of action.
Keep track of all the records.
Ensure that the student has a screenshot of the bully’s messages and threats. The victim must keep these screenshots as evidence to make it easier to catch the bully. This can come in handy when you take the case to the principal, the parents, or even the police.
Make sure you get help for the child.
Meeting with a counselor or a therapist can help the student get their feelings out. Bullying can take a toll on a child’s mental health, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and stress. Talking to a therapist can help the child work through his feelings and feel heard.
Monitor the child’s usage of social media.
One way of helping a student fight cyberbullying is tracking their social media activity and the activity of the bully. This monitoring can help track the bully and identify them through technology. Make sure you also have a hold over the student’s account so that you can prevent future bullying from happening.
Let the victim know it is not their fault.
It usually happens that children think it is their fault that they are being bullied and that something is wrong with them. It is important that the child knows that bullying is more about the bully’s personality than the victim’s.
Praise them for being brave enough to speak up about it and assure you are in this together. The latter is the key.
Bullying in any form is a serious offense. You need to deal with the problems rather than expect them to disappear. Letting it go would only mean allowing it to keep happening further.
Cyberbullying, therefore, needs to be prevented. It takes a huge toll on the child’s mental health. The bully does not care because they are anonymous and don’t have to deal with them face to face.
Teachers and parents need to be very careful and mindful of sensitive things like this cyberbullying. They need to make their child feel comfortable; the children should feel like they are being heard and have someone to talk to about the issue.
You can deal with cyberbullying, depending on your approach to it. It is a sensitive issue that you need to handle with care and empathy.