It’s not just about switching off: helping kids deal with Cyber Bullies

When we hear reports in the media of cyber bullies and trolls harassing, stalking and abusing others, the immediate reaction for many has been “Why don’t they just switch off”.

And certainly there is an element of wanting people to ignore, to not feed them and essentially to move on. This however is certainly easier said than done. Should it even be the responsibility of the victim?

Our kids have grown up with the internet, immersed in the online world. It is not just a matter of a new toy that we can ask them to put away. A recent survey found that two thirds of all teens said they could not live without the internet. Now we know that indeed they would survive, and a disconnection will not result in the cessation of a beating heart, however for many the internet is a lifeline to many other elements of their lives.

It is a privilege to have access to the world via this medium, however it is a privilege that like all facets of society, can be grossly abused by many.

When a child gets bullied online, it is our easy answer to say…”turn it off and ignore”. But we are beginning to understand that for many, this is not an option.

We know that cyberbullying is dangerous because it is 24/7 and we are now accessible all the time. We know that it is dangerous because it is a lot easier for a bully to be a bully when they are not seeing the pain in their victims eyes. We know that it is also dangerous because often the bully feels they are anonymous and free from retribution. And we know that cyberbullying is dangerous because the victim is able to read the written or typed word over and over again. This mental torture can be devastating for those already suffering low self esteem, anxiety or depressive disorders.

So if we can’t tell them to just ‘switch off’, what can we do?

What is most important here is to teach them self control. To not fight back. Just like regular bullies, cyber bullies thrive on the ‘fight’, on the attention and the drama. Whilst we want to teach our kids not to accept this behaviour, we also want them to try and fight back via other means…away from the online vitriol that never ends well for anyone.

Some practical steps to take if you or your child is being bullied

  • Block the person from your feed or stream
  • If it continues, report to the appropriate people, (teachers, internet service provider, website administration or the national report cyber bully help buttons).
  •  Take screen shots as evidence if bullies continue to find a way to harass you.
  • And always tell someone. A problem shared is always a problem halved.

The internet and the online world is there to be enjoyed by everyone. We know that there will always be people who have little regard for the welfare of others and for public spaces. We should not have to remove ourselves from the playing field just so we can play safely.



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This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. I’ve been lucky – touch wood – that cyber bullying hasn’t touched our family, but I know others’ who have experienced it. I think reporting is essential – too many people try to handle these things on their own for a long time, meanwhile the problem escalates. I’ve known people who’ve even reported to police, especially if hacking has been involved. It seems extreme, but sometimes kids just need a good scare.

    1. Martine

      Yes Rachel, we certainly need kids to know that it is ok to tell others. And certainly as cyberbullying is illegal, there is no reason why it cant be reported to police.

  2. Eleise

    There are some great ideas in there. I do worry about my teens and online bullying!

    1. Martine

      Thanks Eleise, it sis always good to be prepared just in case.

  3. Mums Take Five

    hmm its a worry huh. Good advice though , thanks

    1. Martine

      Thanks, it isnt something that we need to be consumed by, but it certainly helps to be a little prepared and to have had the conversations with our kids.

  4. Jess@EssentiallyJess

    Great tips as always Martine.
    You know, in some ways, Cyber Bulling is easier to deal with than the regular kind, because at least you can get proof. Which may seem like an odd comment, but my daughter is dealing with a bully at school, and I’m real over it. 🙁

    1. Martine

      Good point Jess, and I am so sorry your daughter is having problems with bullying. I hope it gets sorted very quickly.

  5. BossyMummy

    Pertinent info for every parent. Bullying scares me, kids can be so cruel, so if we can have some tools to help our kids get through, it is great!

    1. Martine

      I think just being prepared goes a long way to helping ourselves and our kids.

    1. Martine

      And being aware is certainly what we should all be aiming for. 🙂

  6. Andrea

    I also believe that you have to protect your kids from cyber bullying and your tips here are very essential. You should have constant communication with your kids in order for them to share the burden from the bad attacks they get.


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