5 Ways to Help Your Teen Deal with Cyberbullying
Developing digital resilience will help your teen handle online bullying and cruelty. We are facing a time when kids of all ages struggle with thoughts of suicide. According to one study, young people that are cyberbullied are twice as likely to take their own life and self-harm. Sadly, we added the word bullycide to our lexicon over the past few years.
Once upon a time, a teen wanting to be mean might tear some paper from a binder, scribble something nasty about a classmate, and pass it around school, sending it into the rumor mill for a week or so.
Today, these slams are posted online for all the world to see, and they have the potential to inflict much more harm on their victim’s psyche.
We frequently discuss helping our children build resilience offline by developing attitudes of self-respect, empathy for others, and honesty, however, today we need to talk about digital resilience.
A Pew Research Center study found that 92 percent of U.S. teenagers use social networks at least once a day, with 45 percent reporting that they are online almost constantly. There’s no shortage of online hate and trolling, however one survey shared that it could be your teen’s own friend that is cyberbullying them.
Parents may never be as tech-savvy as their teenager. Their teen may always be an app ahead of them, but the basics of offline parenting should constantly be whispering in their head while they’re about to make online decisions. “What would mom/dad want me to do?”
5 Ways to help your teen handle cyberbullying:
1. Be prepared for the ugly side of the Internet. Being forewarned is being forearmed. No matter what your age is, online, like offline, there will be people that make distasteful comments or that won’t agree with you. However, in cyberspace, with the lack of accountability, know that some people use their keypad as a weapon rather than a tool.
2. Be informed. Know how to block individuals, flag and report abusive content, and when to report incidents. Emphasize the importance of telling someone “In real life.” Stress to your teen they can come to you without judgment. Kids need to feel safe. Remind your teen that on every social platform they are on — they should familiarize themselves with the terms of service for abusive content and harassment so they are smarter digital citizens when they report incidents.
3. It’s not all real. There’s a reason why Facebook is frequently referred to as Fakebook. Show your teen how easily digital pictures can be manipulated. The realization that not everything is what it seems is a useful first step – understanding that life is not as perfect as it may seem Teens may be familiar with the digital world but less familiar with the motivations for creating ‘fake’ images. Instagram is only the highlights of peoples lives — or what they want you to believe. Behind the screens can be a completely different, if it exists at all.
4. Critical thinking. Think twice, post once. Help your teen to think through the possible consequences of what they post online. Remind them that there is no rewind, once it’s posted it’s nearly impossible to take back. Fifteen minutes of humor is not worth a lifetime of humiliation.
5. Socialize in person. Take time offline to know your friends. Encourage your teen to socialize in person with their friends. Communicating solely behind a screen can be isolating. Socializing in person builds more face-to-face contact in helping your teen have empathy and compassion towards people.
Building digital resilience is not only for adolescents, parents too need to be more self-aware of how social media is affecting their daily lives to better help their teens.
If your teen is/was a victim of cyberbullying or bullying and is struggling emotionally, you have exhausted your local resources, contact us to learn the benefits of residential therapy for your family and teenager.
Image provided by Pixabay.