Are Your Kids Safe Online? Early Warning Signs of Social Media Bullying
Many social media sites started with the best of intentions. The creators of those sites hoped their inventions would be used for positive purposes, like helping old friends reconnect and new friends meet each other.
In some ways, social media has lived up that promise. More than one relationship has started on a social media site, and millions of lost connections have been found again. At the same time, social media has allowed the worst impulses to flourish, leading to broken friendships, divisive arguments, and an increasingly divided nation.
Children are not immune to the dangers of social media, and parents need to be aware of the threats. In many ways, young people are even more vulnerable to the troubles of social media than their elders. After all, children and teenagers lack significant life experience, and they may not have the skills needed to put negative comments and bullying behaviour into a larger context.
That is why it is so important for parents, teachers, school administrators, and other adults to know the warning signs of bullying on social media. Some of these signs can be quite subtle, so paying close attention is the best way to protect your kids from the dangers lurking online.
Watch Out for Secretive Behaviour
If you live with a teenager, you know that secretive behaviour is par for the course, but an increase in secrecy should be cause for concern. If your son or daughter is suddenly unwilling to share their feelings or reveal their online activities, bullying on social media could be to blame.
Investigate Jumpiness or Unease When Using Their Devices
Chances are your kids spend a good bit of time staring into their phones, but how they react to that screen time can be very telling. Watch out for jumpiness or unease when using computers and mobile devices; these behaviours could be signs of cyberbullying.
Note any Changes in Eating Habits
A sudden change in eating habits is another common warning sign of social media bullying. A child who is being bullied online may stop eating or develop an eating disorder in an attempt to lose weight. Other kids who are bullied online may eat more, binging on junk food as a way to compensate.
Discuss Any Changes in Schoolwork or In-School Behaviour
Parents have a role to play in detecting and preventing bullying on social media, but so do teachers and school administrators. Talk to the teachers in your child’s life, and note any changes in classroom performance or in-school behaviour. A sudden drop in grades or a reluctance to participate in classroom discussions could mean your child is being bullied by his or her peers.
Interactions on social media can be positive influences in the lives of young people, but there is a dark side parents need to be aware of. Whether you child spends hours on social media or just checks in once in awhile, it is important to know the warning signs of cyberbullying. By educating yourself you can help protect your child, so they can enjoy their online interactions – and the rest of their life.