Parenting in the Digital Age
With thanks to Andrea Lindsay HDIH, SQHP, S.A.C. Dip, for writing this article. We must all face the fact that we are now in a digital age. Although there may be many benefits to being born into a di...
##HOW TO DEAL WITH CYBERBULLYING
Cyberbullying is a big and growing concern worldwide. While bullying itself is not a new thing, the growth of the internet has given bullies new ways to harass their victims. More and more people every year seek out counsellors to help with cyberbullying, devastated by the effects that this new and toxic form of harassment has had on themselves and their families.
Cyberbullying can affect anyone. Most of us have experienced an online debate turning toxic, and many of us have been ‘trolled’ at some point. But sometimes this kind of behaviour can go too far – particularly when children are involved. Bullying among children and young people has been a problem since the dawn of humanity, but the internet enables it to a worrying extent. If your child is involved in this kind of thing (either as a victim or as a perpetrator), it is really important to get some professional help to deal with cyberbullying and its effects.
###WHAT IS CYBERBULLYING?
Cyberbullying is bullying carried out using the internet. It can take many forms, ranging from simple name-calling to the creation of ‘memes’ and videos which victimise certain people or groups. Often, cyberbullying is combined with more conventional bullying.
While there is nothing new about bullying, the growth of the internet has given bullies a new avenue through which to pursue their victims. This means that victims of bullying may have no respite from their tormentors. While previous generations who were bullied at school often found refuge and safety at home, they can now be reached through the internet anywhere at any time.
What’s more, cyberbullying can very quickly take on a life of its own. Bullying videos or memes can be circulated all over the world in a matter of hours
While no form of bullying is at all acceptable, the relentless and constant nature of cyberbullying puts victims under constant pressure. This is extremely stressful, and can cause quick deterioration in your child’s mental health.
###SOME CYBERBULLYING STATISTICS:
• Cyberbullying victims are twice as likely to self-harm as victims of more conventional forms of bullying.
• Cyberbullying doubles the risk of suicide for those affected.
• Almost all social media sites admit that they have difficulties clamping down on cyberbullying.
• 70% of young people (aged 13-22) have been exposed to cyberbullying.
• An estimated 1.26 million British youngsters have been subject to prolonged, daily cyberbullying which has had a serious impact upon their mental health.
All in all, cyberbullying is a big, big problem. It is really important to find help to deal with cyberbullying before it escalates and causes serious damage.
###WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF CYBERBULLYING?
The short-term effects of any kind of bullying are bad enough. They include:
• Social isolation
• Low self-esteem
• Lack of confidence
• Disturbed sleep
• Appetite and weight changes
• Higher risk of illness
• Declining academic performance
In cases of cyberbullying, however, these effects are likely to be more extreme. This is because cyberbullies have a wider reach than those who do their bullying in person, and can harass their victims pretty much whenever they want to.
All forms of bullying can have an impact well into adulthood. Long-term effects of bullying can include:
• Chronic depression
• Increased risk of suicidal ideation
• Anxiety disorders
• Low health
• Self-destructive behaviours (including self-harm and problems with substance abuse)
• Difficulty establishing trust and relationships with others
• Difficulty making headway in careers
So, if someone you love is suffering from this, it’s vital to find a counsellor who can help with cyberbullying as quickly as you can.
A cyberbullying counsellor can help your child to come to terms with what has happened to them. They will give them the support that they need to heal from the experience, rebuild their confidence, and teach them skills to safeguard their mental health against any long-term effects.
###WHAT CAN I DO IF I SUSPECT THAT MY CHILD IS A CYBERBULLY?
The format of social media can sometimes lead people to act more aggressively online than they ever would face-to-face. It can also help to reinforce some behaviours and mentalities. If a bullying post gets plenty of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’, the poster feels pleased with themselves, and the bullying may escalate. This means that children who would never have turned to bullying in a pre-internet age can be easily egged into it online.
Bullying is no picnic for the instigator. Bullies often struggle with:
• Difficulty maintaining relationships (as their peers may be scared of them)
• Reduced access to education, due to the likelihood of bullying-related suspensions and exclusions
• A personal sense of shame
What’s more, children who have a history of bullying often grow up with;
• A higher chance of being abusive to spouses or partners
• A greater risk of antisocial behaviour
• Lower employment opportunities
• A greater chance of getting into trouble with the law.
So, if you suspect your child of bullying, it’s really important to get to the bottom of it and nip it in the bud.
###HOW CAN A COUNSELLOR HELP MY CHILD TO STOP BULLYING?
There are many reasons why children turn to bullying. Sometimes they are ‘following the crowd’, and sometimes they are trying to boost their own confidence by pushing others down. Sometimes they’re trying to be ‘cool’, or even to protect themselves from bullying by making themselves appear tough.
Once a child has begun bullying it can be difficult for them to stop, especially if they bully with a group of others. Refusing to participate any more may put them at odds with their group, and may even lead them to become a target. So it takes a lot of strength and integrity for a bully to stop.
A counsellor can help your child find the strength, empathy, and integrity that they’ll need to break away from bullying. A good counsellor can help your family get to the bottom of why, exactly, your child is being a bully. They will help your child to develop their empathy, understand the impact they may be having on their victim, and move forward in a kinder and more inclusive way.
#FIND A COUNSELLOR FOR ISSUES WITH CYBERBULLYING
You can find more guidance for finding a good counsellor on our website. Cyberbullying can have a devastating impact on both victims and bullies – but a good counsellor really can help you all to heal.