Protecting Children from Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying involves posting or sending electronic messages including text, pictures or videos, aimed at harassing, threatening or spreading rumors on another person via a variety of digital platforms such as online social networks, chat rooms and blogs

Protecting children from Cyberbullying
UNICEF/Egypt 2018/Rehab El Dalil

What is Cyberbullying

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying involves posting or sending electronic messages (sometimes anonymously), including text, pictures or videos, aimed at harassing, threatening or spreading rumors on another person via a variety of digital platforms such as online social networks, chat rooms, blogs, instant messaging and text messaging.

What is the reason for children to be involved in cyberbullying?

Cyber bullying is often motivated by anger, revenge or frustration. Often, cyberbullying is also sparked by a need for entertainment, attention or simple bordum by having too much time on their hands or little supervision. Since motives differ, the solutions and suggestions for responses will also differ for each situation as there is no “one size fits all” when cyberbullying is concerned. Below is a list of possible signs that suggest your child is involved in cyberbulling as well as recommendations to help tackle and prevent the phenomenon  of cyberbullying:

Signs that your child is a victim of cyber-bullying:

  • Drastic change in their use of devices (sudden increase or decrease)
  • Begins to avoid several social situations
  • Displays extreme sadness, loss of interest and isolation of people and activities.
  • Starts to become secretive by hiding their screens when others are near.
  • Sudden shut down of social media accounts or the creation of new ones.
Cyberbullying Infographic
Cyberbullying Infographic

UNICEF Egypt's Ambassador Mona Zaki Video Message Against Cyberbullying

Link to video on it's hosted site.
UNICEF/Egypt 2018/Sherine Arafa

Tips and Suggestions for parents

  • Empowering your child how to respond to cyberbullying
    • If your child is being bullied, encourage them not to respond as this will feed the attention and power the bully is seeking. Teaching them to not engage and talk to you about how they feel instead is a hard yet powerful tool.
    • Encourage your child to block the personal going the bullying.
    • Invite your child to come to you whenever they feel like they need to talk. Reassure them that they can tell you anything without overreacting to what they have to say and builds trust that they can share with you more information.
    • Reassure your child that bullies are not all that powerful at all, instead they do so in order to receive power and reality is they too are suffering from a lot which leads them to act this way. Perspective sometimes helps to overcome a difficult situation.
  • Teach safe online behavior:
    • Guide your child to think before posting as children can be very impulsive. Remind them once something is online, it can be shared by many;
    • Explain to your child what entails a real friend. It is becoming more and more common that the larger the online ‘followers’ and ‘friends’ the more they feel loved. This leads to unknown friend requests being accepted. Encourage them to only accept friend requests of people they have met in person;
    • Encourage being resptful online- even if your child is neither a bully nor a victim of cyberbullying, it is important to empower them to speak up when they see/read/experience unfair posts towards others, by standers are the most powerful to stop a bullying situation.
  • Have an open discussion with out child:
    • Let them know you are aware of this issue, provide stories you have heard, or read about to achieve familiarity with your child, kindly ask whether your child has been exposed to anything similar without interrogation.
    • Finally, reassure them that the purpose of this talk is not to take away social privileges but rather to get closer and understand your child more.