6 Effective Ways to Stop & Prevent Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is worst than conventional bullying. In traditional bullying, most bystanders are silent. They don’t want to say anything as they are known to the victims. In cyberbullying, the myth of anonymity makes bystanders bolder that they turn into bullies.

You only need to observe the comment section of any Isumbong Mo Kay Tulfo videos. Netizens who do not know the people involved have vile and vicious comments. They cursed those they deemed to be at fault, called them names, and sometimes threatened them.

Teachers, pastors, doctors, and people you expect to be polite in their comments make statements that they would not typically give to people they encounter every day. They won’t even make those comments in front of the people they hate.

Protect your child from cyberbullying
You can protect your child from cyberbullying.

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is electronic bullying. Bullies use technology to intimidate, threaten, stalk, ridicule, humiliate, taunt, and spread rumors about their target person. Cyberbullying is accomplished via email, text messages, social media, websites, video games, videos, or other forms of electronic communication. 

While some believe that some examples of cyberbullying are part of growing up, studies show that the effect of cyberbullying maybe last longer than traditional bullying. Those who are targets of cyberbullying may suffer from low self-esteem, anger, depression, and even suicide.

In traditional bullying, victims may have some respite at home or in the classroom. In cyberbullying, our children can be targeted 24/7 every day of the year.

It is not safe to ignore cyberbullying.

Vile and Vicious

When vileness and viciousness become the norm among adult internet users, children start to believe that bullying is cool. 

You don’t want to be at the receiving end of nasty comments from people who don’t know you from Adam. 

Cyberbullies quickly call someone bobo, gago, or tanga because the former have poor reading comprehension. Many arrogant people are ignoramuses.

I can laugh at these comments. I know that none of these describe me. 

But I know people who got offended by these comments. Some returned the insults with another insult, which destroyed their online reputation. Some deleted their online accounts. 

Unfortunately, many of us parents do not get to monitor every online interaction of our children. As a result, many are clueless when their kids become the target of cyberbullies.

Dont Bully
Don’t bully.

Anonymity Factor

Even the physically weak can be cyberbullies. Although some victims may personally know cyberbullies, others do not. A key component of cyberbullying is the anonymity factor. Most of these bullies are virtually anonymous.

One can create many accounts online. This is why people are bolder than ever. They think no one can recognize them behind their computer monitors. They are not afraid of the consequences. So, although there is a law that punishes cyberbullies, they may not get punished for their offenses.

Take note also that victims of cyberbullying are not just kids. I found out that 1 of 10 teachers have been victims of cyberbullying. I was bullied many times too, probably thinking that by shaming me they can make me stop speaking my mind.

Signs and Symptoms

I remember a parent who called her child lazy because she has no motivation to study. She was seeking the help of teachers. Later, teachers found out that the student was bullied.

Whether bullying happens on campus or online, keep in mind that the impact last. Most students do not tell adults when they are being bullied. Therefore it is important that parents and teachers recognize the signs and symptoms.

  1. The student is sudently reluctant to use the computer and other electronic devices.
  2. The student may display unusual anger, sadness or depression after using the computer or electronic device.  
  3. The student may be nervous, anxious or jumpy when receiving an email or text message.  
  4. The student may exhibit unusual mood swings.  
  5. The student may become unusually withdrawn or depressed.  
  6. The child may have trouble sleeping or exhibits other sleeping disturbances.  
  7. The student may show a decline in school grades.  
  8. The student may not want to go to school.  
  9. The student may have an unusual interest in self-harm or in suicide. 
  10. The student may become reclusive, withdrawn and lose friends.  
  11. The student may suddenly change friends.  
  12. The student may not participate in family or school activities. 

I am not asking you to get paranoid when you observe these symptoms. But don’t ignore them too. People often say that these are part of growing up.

It is important to learn steps to protect your children.

Steps to Prevent Cyberbullying

We can help our children avoid cyberbullying. Allow me to share some practical steps.

1. Establish and enforce online rules.

We can teach our kids practical ways to protect themselves. Though we cannot prevent bullies from using the internet, we can shield our kids from them.

  1. Tell your kids to protect their passwords. They can share their passwords with you, but they must refrain from sharing their passwords with others, even their best friends. In addition, they must not save their passwords when using someone else’s computers.
  2. Do not share photos that others can use to humiliate you. Online trends often make kids do foolish things, like sending nude photos. Some challenges on Tiktok may subject kids to cyberbullying.
  3. Pause before you post. We tell adults about this again and again. Help your kids come up with criteria so you can define what is safe for posting.
  4. Set up privacy controls. You can set up your child’s google account. Find out how you can do that here:
  5. Google your child’s name. Once in a while, you can google your child’s name. You will find out if people are using your identity. I also search for my name on Facebook. Online sleuthing helps me understand what people say about me. You can do the same for your kids.
  6. Don’t be a cyberbully. It is easy to be a cyberbully. Most cyberbullies believe that they only participate in the discussion. They don’t know how the person who received the comments feels.

2. Openly discuss cyberbullying with your children.

I overheard a conversation between two kids. 

“I hate BBM. Say, Fuck BBM!”

“No, bad words yan”.

“Sige, ako na lang. Fuck BBM”.

The kid must have heard this from an adult. Or have read it online. Facebook does not distinguish kids and adults. During the campaign period, they read about “Leni Lugaw” and “BBM Magnanakaw”.  

They learned the worst online behaviors from adults.

If they could freely say all these to leaders, it would be easier for them to curse people they don’t know.

It is easier to be a cyberbully these days.

We need to tell our kids that not everything they read online is worth emulating. Likewise, not everything adults do they must emulate. 

Constantly ask them about the things they read online that are “bad words.” Then, you can turn these negative online experiences into learning moments.

3. Never post or share personal information online.

I recommend this to all adults. I don’t tell people that the family is on vacation and nobody is at home. 

I know that some people find it pleasurable to tell the world where they are every moment of the day. However, I rather enjoy those moments than share them online and inform the rest of the world – including criminals what I am doing and where I am going.

Tell kids not to share their phone numbers, your address, school address, school activities, and others. Please don’t make it easy for cybercriminals and cyberbullies to target them.

4. Monitor your child’s computer and telephone use.

Most victims of cyberbullying do not tell their parents. Explain to your children why you need to monitor their computer and telephone use. They need to know that you are protecting them.

5. Visit websites/social networking sites your child frequents.  

New networking sites are born each day. Many want to become a billionaire like Zuck. That means they make their site wide open to everyone.

6. Support the school’s anti-bullying policy.

Republic Act No. 10627 mandates that every school develop an anti-bullying policy. Understand how your child’s school is implementing the law. 

Support the anti-bullying campaign of the school. If there is no anti-bullying campaign, suggest practical ways to launch it in school. I have given some examples in my first article on bullying.

We are responsible.

When I was young, most of my bullying experiences happened in school. I don’t know what happened to my female classmates who the bully forced to see and hold his thing. Maybe, they have forgotten what happened to them (which I still remember).

In the slums, the young bullies often imitated the neighborhood’s siga and maton. Adults considered those fistfights as part of growing up. In truth, many of those bullies eventually become politicians.

But today, because of the universal access to the internet and the growing number of social media platforms, we are seeing the rise of cyberbullies. 

And the bystanders of old are now occasional cyberbullies. They think that online comments are just words. They don’t see the victims. They don’t expect the victims of vile and vicious comments. 

But we know of many young people who committed suicide after reading hundreds of comments from people who left a line or two to join the online conversations.

Cyberbullying kills. We must take steps to prevent it from harming our children.

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