43% of young people under 17 have reported being bullied online. With numbers like that, there’s a chance your child may be part of this statistic.
How can parents tell if their child is being bullied online, if they won’t open up to them about it? Clinical Psychologist and Cyber Expert Jordan Foster from ySafe suggests that the signs may not always be so obvious to parents.
1. They’re being secretive with their devices
‘Kids and especially teenagers are naturally secretive with their devices, they value their privacy’ Jordan explains. ‘But if you notice them being more secretive than normal such as leaving the room to use their device, then this is a red flag’.
2. They’re constantly checking their devices
‘Parents often say they assume if their child is being bullied, then they won’t even want to look at their phone’ says Jordan, ‘It’s the opposite. When a young person is being bullied online they will check their devices constantly’.
3. They don’t want to go to school
‘If your child is normally happy or content to get up and go to school and this suddenly changes, then this is another major red flag’, ‘Whilst the bullying might take place online, they will still feel great shame in going to school and facing their peers who know about the bullying or took part in it’ says Jordan.
4. They’re reluctant to switch off at night
‘It can be easier to enforce rules around devices at bedtime for younger kids, but teens are often given the privilege of taking their device to bed at night’ explains Jordan, ‘If your teen seems more tired than usual then chances are they’re staying up late checking their devices’. ‘I suggest installing parental controls to switch off the internet at bed time, this is the only solution to preventing them staying up later than they should, if you’re not able to confiscate the device’.
5.They seem anxious or moody
‘This is the most obvious sign of cyber bullying’ explains Jordan. ‘If your child seems to be stressed and withdrawn or emotional then there’s definitely something wrong’. Getting to the bottom of the issue can be quite difficult, but perseverance is key.
What can parents do?
‘It’s quite difficult sometimes for teens to admit they’re being bullied online, they worry that parents will intervene or even take devices away – but it’s vital to talk to them about it’ says Jordan, ‘Sometimes just getting it off their chest is a great start and then figuring out how to solve the problem together is the next step’. Cyber bullying occurs in varying degrees, so it’s important to gain a full understanding of the severity of the bullying. If you suspect your child is being severely bullied, try and find out what social media platform it is occurring on. If it is a post or page that can be removed, it needs to be taken down. Most major social media platforms have Family Help Centres that give you step-by-step instructions on how to remove cyber bullying content of your child. Alternatively, parents can visit the eSafety website (www.esafety.gov.au) and find out more information on how to delete cyber bullying content.
At Family Zone, we understand that navigating this journey as a parent is difficult. But you're not in it alone - our team of Cyber Experts, including ySafe, can help you sort out what apps and content are appropriate for your child, and provide you with the tools and resources to help you protect your children online.