Every parent wants to protect their child online. However, many parents are not technologically savvy enough to know just how much danger a child can be in while on the Internet. This goes far beyond the typical parental concerns of child molesters targeting children in chat rooms. That still goes on and needs to be addressed, but today’s kids face far more potential problems in the online world than in the past. This is because so many of their friends and classmates are also online. Rivalries and peer pressure from school can spill over into a child’s home life through the Internet. One of the most pervasive problems regarding today’s kids and the Internet is bullying. Learn all you need to know about Bullying on Facebook.
Facebook: The Biggest Place for Bullying
While there are lots of locations kids can go to online and experience bullying, Facebook is the main culprit. With a lot of websites like Twitter, Tumblr, and others, much of what child posts can be seen by people other than his or her friends. Bullying by strangers is common, but most children find this easy to ignore. After all, even adults can get bullied by cyber-trolls who enjoy making nasty, almost hateful comments to anything anyone posts in a public area. Unless the person on the receiving end has a short temper or the bullying is very personal or threatening, this type of thing is easily ignored and the trolls usually back off after a while. However, Facebook is different. Children who are prone to bullying use Facebook like farming to select the kids that are the most vulnerable and target them for harassment.
This is the site where most of your child’s friends are congregating. Kids tend to keep their Facebook pages locked down pretty tightly and won’t let just anyone be their friend. They may not even let parents or other family members be friends unless you insist. It’s actually good to insist because you need to monitor what’s going on in your child’s life and make sure that he or she is safe and smart. You don’t have to be intrusive, but having a presence on your child’s social media can allow you to keep a quiet eye on things and bring it up to your child offline if things seem to be going in the wrong direction.
Friends and Enemies Can Sometimes Be the Same Online
Because so many of your children’s friends and schoolmates are on Facebook, there is a huge potential for bullying there, and it does go on. There may be a mass shunning of someone who is the target of bullying. This can be in the form of a large number of people un-friending your child, which can be damaging to his or her self-esteem and a stigma to deal with at school. Other times, people will stay on your child’s friends list and continue to harass him or her, often bringing their own friends into it in the comments section of your child’s posts, as well. Sometimes, the bullying can be done by instant messaging or through private messages. You won’t be able to see these, but it’s important that you ask your child about any possibility of bullying online if you suspect it.
Bullying can be in the form of mean comments, threats, and even more insidious things. There have been cases of kids making up personas to friend your child, starting a pretend relationship that their child thinks is real and then breaking up with your child under the most awful circumstances. Adults have even gotten into the act with this regarding children who are not well liked by the bullies. Some children have committed suicide over such bullying, or even lesser forms of online bullying. Bullying of any kind can be devastating to a child. As a parent, cyber safety has got to be one of your primary concerns for your child, as this is a world that is different from the one in which we grew up, but one in which your child has to live. In this world, cyberbullying is a reality and a big problem.
Bullying on Facebook: How You Can Tell if Your Child is Being Cyberbullied
Here are some signs that your child may be the victim of cyberbullying:
- seeming to be emotionally distressed after using the Internet
- being very secretive regarding their online activities
- withdrawal from friends and activities at school
- not wanting to go to school
- slipping grades
- acting out at home or at school when this behaviour is new for your child
- changes in sleep or appetite patterns
Bullying on Facebook: What You Can Do to Protect Your Child
We all want to protect our children. Stopping the bullying and providing cyber safety should be our primary concerns if bullying online is suspected. First of all, talk to your child. If this doesn’t work, talk to his or her teachers, known good friends, and parents of those friends. If you can identify the bully online, block him or her from contacting your child. Limit your child’s time online if necessary and always have access to your child’s online accounts. You can check for bullying messages and posts there. Talk to teachers and the principal at your child’s school about the bullying and the person or people responsible for it and demand action against them to protect your child. Finally, get counselling for your child if necessary. There is only so much we can do to keep our children completely safe, no matter how hard we try. Cyberbullying is something that is a real problem for a lot of kids online and something we as parents can take a stand on and help to stop.