With the growing advancements in technology, schools are leaning more towards online learning. This compels children into accessing online services, sometimes in the absence of their parents. Some of these platforms, though useful, can expose your child to cyberbullying.
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The odds of your child, especially a teenager, telling you they are being cyberbullied are very low. It is, therefore, up to you as a parent to assess how your child uses the internet and ensure they are not being cyberbullied.
Here are some potential warning signs to watch out for in your child:
Sporadic change in their social media interaction
When your child suddenly changes his/her pattern in how they use social media, you need to look into the situation to ensure everything is okay.
If they no longer use social media as frequently as they used to, they could be avoiding someone or people.
Vice versa, if they are spending more time than usual on social media they could be battling a leaked photo or text doing rounds amongst their friends.
When you notice your child get angry or quiet after being online, that could be a red flag that something is up. This is especially when they constantly have outbursts in the house even when no one has offended them.
Children are open books, they haven’t mastered the art of masking their emotions, approach them and try to talk to them about the issue caringly.
Withdrawn from their daily activities
When your child suddenly withdraws from activities he/she formerly enjoyed such as social gatherings, something could be bothering them.
You will notice that they no longer want to be part of the family game nights or they constantly miss meals, even their favourite ones.
Other than withdrawing from their daily activities, you may notice some changes in their sleeping patterns or a regress to old habits like wetting the bed.
Committing social media suicide
When you notice your child has deleted all their social media accounts, this could be a huge sign that something is wrong.
Most teenagers have the tendency of going off on social media once in a while claiming they need breaks but it usually doesn’t last more than a day. If it does and they are not talking about it, look into the matter.
While some children might delete their accounts, others might start afresh with pseudo accounts or set harsh privacy settings blocking out people from their profiles.
Receiving a lot of messages
Bullies will want to remind their victims of the embarrassing moment by sending them mean and provocative messages. When your child’s phone is constantly buzzing and they don’t seem amused by the messages they receive, they are probably being cyberbullied.
As a parent, it is your duty to stay vigilant on how your child uses social media.
A drop in school performance
If your child’s grades drop drastically, something could be going on that is taking away their focus from their studies.
This is amongst the earliest warning signs that something could be happening to your child and they don’t know how to handle the situation.
In case you suspect your child is being cyberbullied, approach the issue gently but firmly. Ensure that your child knows and understands you are on their side. Avoid taking radical measures that will cause further damage to their fragile state on social media.
Ensure they take part in the final decision you agree on. Whether it is reporting the bullies to the school authorities or taking a break from social media, let them agree to it because they are the ones who will live with the consequences.
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The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Evewoman.co.ke