Not-for-profit organisation Internet Matters has launched a hard-hitting campaign to highlight the changing face of bullying in the digital age – and how parents’ advice should also shift with the times. It comes at a peak time of the year for the issue – with eight times as many Google searches for ‘cyberbullying’ when children are back at school compared to July and August. Figures peak specifically in October, with more than double the amount of searches for the term ‘cyberbullying’ compared to an average month.*
Nearly one in 10 (9%) parents polled said their children had been involved in a cyberbullying incident.
A compelling video which runs alongside the campaign plays on the phrase ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’, focusing on a distressed schoolboy alone in his bedroom, as his phone repeatedly flashes up with hurtful messages from bullies.
What to do if your child is being cyberbullied
- Talk about it – find the right time to approach you child if you think they’re being bullied
- Show your support – be calm and considered and tell them how you’ll help them get through it
- Don’t stop them going online – taking away their devices or restricting usage might make things worse and make your child feel more isolated
- Help them to deal with it themselves – if it’s among school friends, advise them to tell the person how it made them feel and ask to take any comments or pictures down
- Don’t retaliate – getting angry won’t help, advise your child not to respond to abusive messages and leave conversations if they’re uncomfortable
- Block the bullies – if the messages are repeated block and report the sender to the social network or gaming platform
- Keep the evidence – take screenshots in case you need them later as proof of what’s happened
- Don’t deal with it alone – talk to friends for support and if necessary your child’s school who will have an anti-bullying policy
Internet Matters has worked with the Anti-Bullying Alliance to bring together comprehensive new information, guidance and resources for parents on its website, available at www.internetmatters.org/issues/cyberbullying/.
The website offers help on how to protect children from cyberbullying, by learning how it might affect them and, in particular, the signs to watch out for. There is advice on how to talk about cyberbullying with your child, technical tools you can use to help manage any potential risks and cyberbullying terms to look out for.