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Upset teen looking at her phone

How Parents Can Help Prevent Cyberbullying

By Dr. Christy Fontana, Premier Pediatrics

Cyberbullying is the use of technology to threaten, embarrass, or harass another person online. Kids, especially teens, are online more now than ever. It can be hard for parents to know if their child is being cyberbullied, but here are some potential warning signs and tips to help prevent it.

Warning Signs of Cyberbullying

  • You notice an increase, or decrease, in your child’s use of their devices, including texting.
  • Your child shuts down their social media accounts and creates new accounts.
  • Your child hides their screen or device and won’t tell you what they’re doing.
  • Your child avoids social situations they once enjoyed and becomes withdrawn or depressed.
  • Your child gets angry or upset by something happening on their device.
  • Your child avoids going to school or is having trouble sleeping.

What To Do If You Suspect Cyberbullying

  • Do not take away your child’s device or reduce their time online. This may deter them from coming to you about bullying incidents in the future.
  • Ask questions. Find out what’s happening, when it started and why, and who is involved.
  • Keep any evidence you find that your child is being cyberbullied. Save screenshots, emails, and text messages, and block the person who is cyberbullying.
  • Report offensive content. Both social media platforms and schools have a process for reporting bad behavior online. If a child is receiving threats, or if a potential crime or illegal activity is occurring, contact your local police department.

How to Prevent Cyberbullying

  • Talk to your child about being respectful online. Explain that negative messages or images can hurt others. Set an example by keeping your online interactions positive.
  • Ask your child what kind of messages or images they are seeing, sending, and receiving and how they make them feel.
  • Limit technology use and create tech-free zones. Keep family meal times, bedtime, and various family and social gatherings tech-free. Try to make unplugged playtime a priority each day. 

The more digital platforms a child uses, like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or even some online games, the more opportunities there are to be cyberbullied or to become a cyberbully. Know which platforms your child uses and monitor them frequently. Most importantly, let your child know you’re there if they have any questions or concerns.

Additional Resources for Parents:

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About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.