The Warning Signs: How to Prevent Cyber-Bullying
One of the most serious issues facing adolescents today is cyber-bullying. Some parents may see bullying as a normal part of growing up, but what they do not realize is that with the access to technology and the lack of regulation online bullies face, teenagers have the ability to inflict greater harm than ever on their peers. When parents wonder how to prevent cyber-bullying, we have provided a list below warning signs, and suggested prevention methods including wilderness therapy programs.
What is cyber-bullying?
Cyber-bullying is when a child or teen is tormented, harassed, threatened, embarrassed, humiliated, and otherwise targeted by another child or teen online, through digital media, or with mobile phones. Cyber-bullying is often motivated by revenge, anger or frustration. It can also be done for entertainment, out of a sense of boredom, or as an attempt to show off or increase social standing. One thing that all incidents of cyber-bullying have in common is that they are intended to cause harm.
Cyber-bullying has serious mental and physical consequences. It has been linked to low self-esteem, family and school problems, violence, delinquent behaviour, mental health issues, and suicide. It also has the potential to lead to cyber-harassment or cyber-stalking, which are criminal offenses.
Forms that cyber-bullying can take:
- Text messaging or instant messaging
- Chat rooms and bulletin boards
- Blogs, websites, and social media accounts
- Interactive gaming
- Online polling
- Sending pornography and junk email
- Sending malicious code
- Online impersonation
- Stealing passwords
This is by no means a comprehensive list of the ways in which a person can cyber-bully someone. A person may distribute inappropriate photos of a person via a mass email; they may create a website or blog to mock the individual; they may torment a person in the comments section of a social media account; they may impersonate an individual online; they may communicate with threatening language over online gaming platforms. Nearly every way of using technology to communicate can be used to destroy a person’s reputation, and teens are imaginative.
Parents need to be aware of the signs that their child may be involved in cyber-bullying.
Red flags that your child may be a cyber-bully:
- Secretive about online activities
- Quickly switches screens or closes programs
- Uses the computer throughout the night
- Gets angry if they are not allowed to use computer
- Laughs excessively at the computer
- Uses multiple online accounts or accounts that are not them
Red flags that your child may be a victim of cyber-bullying:
- Suddenly stops using the computer
- Appears nervous or anxious when receiving an email, instant message or text message
- Avoids school or social activities
- Seems angry or depressed (particularly after computer use)
- Secretive about online activities
- Withdraws from family and friends
What can parents do?
Parents must take an active role in monitoring their child’s online behavior. Take note of any significant changes in conduct and talk with your teen about the seriousness of cyber-bullying.
If you suspect your child may be bullying a peer, address the issue head on and establish consequences. If you think your child may be a victim, do not remain silent, and do not consider their online harassment a part of growing up. Above all, provide unconditional love and support—this could be the most difficult thing your teen has faced in his or her life.
Wilderness therapy can help to address issues related to cyber-bullying.
Wilderness therapy distances the participant from the reaches of social media. It offers a chance for internal reflection and emphasizes personal growth. It focuses on the feelings and emotions that underlie behavior and works to correct negative thought patterns and create healthy habits.
For bullies and victims alike, wilderness therapy is an opportunity to develop the coping skills and management tools needed to navigate the pressures of adolescence and to help young people to make better choices by taking responsibility for themselves and their actions.
To learn about how to prevent cyber-bullying, utilizing wilderness therapy programs, contact Rites of Passage Wilderness today at (800)794-0980 for information regarding our programs.