Everyone knows kids can be cruel. But when does cruelty turn into bullying? And, how can you tell if your child is being victimized by abuse from other kids?
Bullying has taken a decidedly nasty new turn now that thousands of kids own smartphones and tablets. One difference is that the bullying can be done privately, with victims receiving repeated texts or messages that denigrate or threaten them. Another difference is that social networking has given kids a venue where others can join in and accelerate the bullying, as we’ve seen with recent reports of teen suicides.
Maybe the most important difference with cyber bullying is that adults often don’t know it’s going on. If they aren’t involved with their kids’ online activities, it’s even more important to be aware of the red flags that surface when a child’s being unfairly treated.
What are the red flags? Since November’s the designated “awareness” month for bullying, there are lots of articles online. We’ll try to consolidate the information and offer you a list of red flags. If you notice any or all of them, it may be time to step in and get involved in your child’s online life.
Take note if your child
- abruptly stops using his phone or computer, or uncharacteristically stops social networking activities
- appears nervous when a text message, email or voicemail appears on his mobile device
- becomes withdrawn, sad, anxious, depressed, anti-social or unusually moody
- makes an abrupt change of friends, or no longer seems interacts with friends
- begins to get bad grades, loses interest in studies and falls behind in school work
- has an obvious drop in self-esteem, feels inadequate or starts wanting to radically change his appearance
Because cyber-bullying can take many forms, it’s not always easy to spot. Kids can be threatened, ridiculed, denigrated with sexual innuendos or pictures and have their reputations tarnished within large groups by someone who wants to harm them.
Typically, the best suggestion to prevent bullying from getting out of hand is active parental involvement in your child’s online activities.
NQ Mobile’s Family Guardian lets you be a part of your child’s online life, and allows you to regulate, as you see fit, the amount of time spent online, who can contact them and who is blocked, what content they can access, and track their comings and goings. You can spot the signs of bullying before they cause damage to your child, and your kids will feel safer and stronger, knowing that you’re aware of their interactions. Be your kids’ best cheerleader, and make yourself a part of their online team so you can help guide and protect their privacy, security and well-being.
Kids can find unusually cruel ways to hurt one another, especially if they, themselves, are victims of unhealthy influences from family culture, the media or life events that shake their self-esteem. Our final November blog post on bullying will address the problems of having a child who bullies others – the causes and possible solutions. Also, take a minute to visit our mobile family page for more tips and ideas about online safety.
Do you know of kids who’ve been victimized by cyber-bullies? Please share your stories with us on our blog, or join the discussion on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you.