Cyberbullying is when a person or group of people are intentionally intimidating, teasing, threatening, or harassing others online. When a child experiences cyberbullying, as a victim or witness, as they use social media, gaming, or messaging apps, it can be a very emotional experience for the child and/or the family. Often cyberbullying stems from bullying happening offline or in real life. However, it can also happen in online games, or other sites where kids typically only know the bully online. The following video provides some tips and advice for how to handle cyberbullying situations your child may encounter.
What Can I Tell My Kid to Do if They are Being Cyberbullied?
It is important to talk to your child before online bullying happens. Discuss what they are doing online and explore those sites and apps yourself to see potential issues.
If your child does experience cyberbullying support them with the following steps:
- Log off the computer. Ignore attacks and walk away from the cyberbully.
- Don’t engage by responding or retaliating. Cyberbullies are often looking for a reaction or to start an argument so it doesn’t look like bullying.
- Report and Block the online bully. You can report the bully on Social networking apps / sites for inappropriate or threatening behavior (posts). You can also block people by removing them from your friends list.
- Save the evidence – print out bullying messages to show a trusted adult.
- Report the bullying to a trusted adult – this may be a parent or a teacher (especially if it involves other kids at school)
Being a Positive Influence Online
Cyberbullying affects everyone online. It is important to teach our kids to not just be bystanders when they witness inappropriate or mean and harassing behavior online – but to be UPSTANDERS instead!
- Being a friend; talking to the victim letting them know they are not alone and will be supported
- Telling a trusted adult such as a parent, teacher, or administrator (especially if the bullying is connected to school)
- Don’t encourage bad behavior online by giving it an audience
- Don’t pass on hurtful, inappropriate, or threatening messages
- Recording evidence by taking screenshots of what’s happening so they can help the victim report the incident
- Reporting the online bully(s) to the game or social networking app or site where it happened
How to Make a Difference when you Witness Bullying Online
You can make an impact: How witnesses react can make a BIG difference in stopping cyberbullying and making it hurt less.
When Should Parents…
Contact the school about online issues?
You should talk to your child’s teacher or a school administrator if you know or suspect they’re being cyberbullied by someone at the same school. Typically, when kids are being bullied online or via text messaging, they are being bullied offline too, and when that happens it is usually at school.
Contact the authorities?
You should contact the police if your child feels scared, making it hard for them to go to school or do the things they enjoy, if they are being physically threatened, or if someone is threatening to publish something that would hurt or humiliate them. Make sure you talk with your child before taking this step. For more information on your legal options, see the MediaSmarts tip sheet Cyberbullying and the Law.