Social media is a fantastic way for children to stay connected with their friends. However, social media is not always a positive platform. A 2018 study by Pew Research Center found that 59% of children have been bullied on social media.
Bullying on social media has increased over the years as children start using electronic devices at younger ages. However, parents can help their kids take on their cyber bullies. Here are tips on what to do when your child is bullied on social media:
- Comfort your child and remind them that they have your support. Let them talk about their feelings and listen without interrupting. Remind your child that they are not alone and that you are here to help them get through this.
- Reassure your child that it’s not their fault that they are being bullied. Remind them that the bully’s actions on social media say more about the bully than your child. Remember to praise your child for coming to you instead of keeping their feelings bottled up.
- Come up with a plan that you and your child are comfortable with. Is there a teacher or school counselor you can talk to? Most schools have plans in place for how to handle bullying on social media. Once you notify the school, they can help you and your child with the next steps.
- While the school handles the situation, talk to your child about what to do in the meantime. Encourage them not to respond to the bully on social media. Giving the bully any acknowledgment is detrimental because that is all they want. Explain to your child that they shouldn’t give the bully the satisfaction of paying them any attention. They also do not want to make any threats back because then they are just as bad as the bully.
- Try suggesting that your child take a break from social media for a while. Children can get obsessed with going online, especially if they are being bullied on social media. If they won’t or don’t want to get offline, try setting boundaries. Make it a rule that they can only use electronic devices in public spaces so you can monitor their behavior while they are online. If their bully comes back, you’ll be right there for them.
- Make sure to keep records of the bullying. Whether your child’s bully has sent pictures or messages, keep a detailed log of everything. These screenshots can be used as evidence for the school during its investigation. These screenshots can even help the police if they should become involved.
- Consider taking your child to a counselor. Maybe there is someone at your child’s school that they can talk to. This person can help your child begin to recover from their experience of being bullied on social media. A school counselor may even be available to mediate a conversation between your child and their bully if that is something they are comfortable with.
Bullying on social media can lower anyone’s self-esteem, especially children. Even if you cannot stop your child from being bullied on social media, there may be a few ways you can help prevent it from happening.
Ways to Help Prevent Bullying on Social Media
While you can’t always prevent bullying on social media, there are ways you can help your children protect themselves from online attacks:
- Advise your child to set their profiles to private. Tell your child they should only add people they know. This may help decrease their chances of being bullied on social media.
- If someone does start to harass your child, show them how to block and report the bully. Most social media platforms have safety centers that you can report people to.
- Teach your child that they should not join in when someone is bullying somebody on social media. They should never like or share their comments or posts. Instead, they should defend anyone they see being bullied.
Sadly, there is no surefire way to stop your child from being bullied on social media. However, you can give them a safe space to turn to and help them through the process of dealing with a bully. That is the best thing you can do when your child is bullied on social media.