Teens spend a lot of time communicating via cell phone, social networking online, and email. Cyber bullies can pop up at any time during these communications, and from anywhere.
For example, a cyber bully can post mean or taunting messages on a teen’s Facebook page for everyone to see. A bully can set up a web page, blog, or other online presence that is against a particular teenage peer. Embarrassing accidents or incidents such as tripping or stuttering can be filmed (or the teen can even be set up for such an “accident” and then filmed or photographed), then posted on video sites like YouTube, played over and over while people laugh and comment. It can make a teen feel like there is no escape.
This mental anguish can result in depression and even suicide. In fact, the term “cyberbullycide” is a recent term used to describe the connection between this form of bullying and the ultimate act of self-hatred.
How Can You Keep Your Child Safe?
It may seem like there is no way to escape a cyber bully, but there are things you can do. First, if you are a teen, tell someone in authority – a trusted teacher, counselor, or parent. Many teens fear going to their parents for fear of losing internet privileges or just because their relationship with their parents doesn’t “go there.” But teens should tell someone who can help them get a handle on the situation.
If you are a parent of a teen with depression, ask questions. Don’t be intimidated by their anger or surly attitude; you need to know what is going on. Ask them specifically about these form of harassment. Let them know they are not going to get in trouble whatsoever for what another teen is doing. Peer pressure can be very intimidating at these ages, so it is important for them to know that it is okay to break the code of silence on these matters.
Here are more practical tips for helping your teen deal with a cyber bully.
* Save all electronic correspondence from the bully. Print it, save it to an external drive, or otherwise keep it. Teens who are victims will want to throw away or burn this embarrassing, humiliating communication but it needs to be kept. You’ll need it for evidence.
* You can file a complaint with your ISP (internet service provider), cell phone provider, or social networking site.
* The school your child attends should be made aware of the situation if school mates are part of the bullying.
* Remember, you can contact law enforcement if a bully makes threats. If you’ve kept all the correspondence, you’ve got the evidence.
Above all, be a part of your teen’s life. It’s hard when they want their own lives, and their moods change by the minute. But you are still their parent and they are still children in many ways. Whether their behavior indicates it or not, they need you.
We hope that our post Consequences of Cyber Bullying Teenage Cyber Bullying Can Cause Depression helps both you and your teenage children avoid depression from this uncivilized form of brutality!