Even with the amount of information available and the parent education we provide, parents struggle to find out and know, whether their child is being bullied online. It is hard to estimate the number, however, it is highly likely that all children/young adults will be exposed to cyberbullying at some stage. Cyberbullying is one of the hardest types of bullying to cope with. Smartphones and other devices mean there is no escape, and it can happen around the clock. And the internet never forgets so the words and images are preserved online for others to see – meaning bullying can spread easily and rapidly.
There are a number of things that parents can be on the lookout for, if children are not reporting the bullying to parents.
1. They are being secretive with their devices.
Although no child wants their parents looking at their messages, if your child, all of a sudden, becomes more protective of their device than usual, then this is a red flag.
Be aware this behaviour won’t necessarily manifest as hiding the device, but if your child is generally being secretive about what they are doing online, appearing anxious or upset after using their mobile phone, or stopping abruptly and putting the device down when you enter their space, you might want to check in.
2. They are constantly checking their device.
We all know that children can be hooked to their devices, but if they seem unwilling to part with it (won't leave it alone at the dinner table or put in your bag when you are out), then you might want to ask if everything is okay. Checking their device isn't unusual, but if your child seems unusually anxious and obsessive, it can be a sign they're being targeted.
3. They are reluctant to switch off at night.
Being physically joined to their device will not just be a problem during the daytime, but in the evenings when their peers (and the potentially bully) are most likely to be online, so their anxiety might be heightened later at night, or around bedtime.
We encourage parents to actively supervise children’s online activity, to moderate the amount of use, and to know what children are up to in the online world. We advocate that children not be allowed to have devices in their bedroom, but use them in ‘public’ places in the home. Peripheral supervision is powerful. Online behaviour at home is a parent responsibility, and keeping children safe in your own home is a parents number one priority.
The reference for this article is Sophie Gallagher, http://www.generationnext.com.au/2017/07/7-signs-child-bullied-online/