As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to change our society, more people are turning to social media to cope with our “new normal.” This way of life has extended to kids as virtual learning has been encouraged throughout the pandemic.
Remote learning has made it difficult for a lot of students to stay motivated. Along with this, many kids miss seeing their friends every day. As a result, young children are using social media platforms and apps like TikTok, Instagram, and Zoom more than ever.
Unfortunately, with children spending more hours online, there’s been a significant increase in cyberbullying.
Why Do Children Bully?
More often than not, bullying is a learned behavior that may be passed down from older siblings or adults who have trouble handling conflict.
Sometimes bullying can be a cry for attention or help. This is most common when a child is feeling neglected or is going through drastic lifestyle changes. When a child has divorced parents or a guardian who is constantly under the influence of drugs and alcohol, it can cause them to lash out.
Bullies experience relief from their everyday problems by overpowering others. Their impulsive behavior is usually directed toward kids they perceive as weak. Most bullies have not been taught the importance of kindness and empathy. So, they do not always accept or understand the consequences of their actions.
Why is Cyberbullying on the Rise?
One in five children between the ages of 10 to 18 has been a victim of online bullying. Since the beginning of the pandemic, online harassment has increased by 70%. Now that schools have transitioned to remote learning, kids have a lot more online digital-free time.
Additionally, the cancellation of afterschool activities has left children feeling bored and stressed. Here are some reasons why children have engaged in online bullying:
- Increased Stress: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on a ton of stress for children and adults. Many families are dealing with financial hardships and other pandemic woes, which can cause children to feel overwhelmed. To deal with these life stressors, some children will act out or harass others as a way to cope with their emotions.
- Isolation: We are all having trouble adjusting to not being able to see our friends and family every day, and children are no exception. Some kids may even have limited access to the internet, which can further feelings of isolation. It’s not uncommon for children to make mean or hateful comments, especially if they feel ‘out of the loop’.
- Lack of Online Supervision: Bullying inside the classroom can usually be called out by teachers. However, kids are not always under supervision when it comes to online activity. Your child could even have a fake account they use to harass other kids. Though it can be hard to balance the work-from-home life, it’s always a good idea to monitor what your kids are doing online.
Types of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is not limited to spreading hateful messages through social media. Some ways a child may experience cyberbullying include:
- Masquerading: Masquerading is when a bully pretends to be someone else to send malicious messages to their target.
- Flaming: Flaming is a type of bullying that takes place in chat rooms and online forums. It involves sending insults and profanity to a person to cause them harm. Bullies may also use unflattering pictures of a person and spread them in group chats.
- Doxing: Doxing is when a bully shares a victim’s personal and private information. This includes revealing pictures, or videos about someone to embarrass them or put them in danger.
Preventing Cyberbullying and Warning Signs
Many students who experience cyberbullying are reluctant to tell their parents. Not to mention, cyberbullying may go unnoticed by parents since they may not see threats or harassment. If your child is displaying any of the following signs it could be a red flag that they are being bullied:
- They are nervous when texting or using social media
- They are unwilling to discuss their online accounts and activity
- They lose interest in favorite hobbies or activities
- They start to avoid social situations
- They are withdrawn from close friends and family
- They appear to be angry, depressed, or frustrated after going online (including gaming)
- Making passing statements about suicide or making a suicide attempt
If you have noticed one or more of these signs, take immediate steps to identify what is causing your child distress. Be sure to approach the situation gently and remind your child that you are there to offer support. If you find that your child is being bullied contact their school’s vice-principal, or whoever is in charge of disciplinary measures, and ask what steps are taken when cyberbullying is reported.
New patients can call Bayless Integrated Healthcare at 602-777-6337 for a free, 15-minute wellness consultation. You can also click here to make an appointment online. Remember, if you are experiencing a crisis, please call 911 immediately.