How to Spot Cyberbullies

Cyberbullies

Bullies come in all shapes, sizes and ages. From the sand kicker on the beach to the Twinkie stealer in the cafeteria.

The Internet is synonymous with the millennial generation. Sadly, the Cybersmile Foundation reports that every 20 minutes a youngster between 10 and 19 attempts suicide as a result of cyberbullying.

But what can you do to make sure your kids aren’t lured in? Here are some handy tips to help keep them safe online.

What Is It?

Before we get to how to spot it and prevent it, let’s look at what cyberbullying is. It’s any kind of online embarrassment using photos, rumors, fake profiles or messages via smart phone, computer and tablets.

The Warning Signs

You know how it feels when you’re embarrassed about something. You withdraw, go to ground, want to hide or even have trouble sleeping.

Same warning signs for kids who are being cyberbullied. Watch for …

  • Avoiding school
  • Seeing her quickly close a web page if you come in her room
  • A normally outgoing kid suddenly withdraws
  • Doesn’t want to use their phone or be online
  • Not sleeping

If this sounds like your child, sit him down immediately and get the information from them. How? Make them feel comfortable and supported not threatened.

And tell them this true story: A middle aged woman was setting up her home office and looking for online virtual work. On a new freelance website she was invited to apply for a virtual assistant job. Decent money, health insurance, the answer to her prayers.

She was lulled into a cyber-trap that stole money from her. Usually a strong and strident individual, she withdrew from friends and family and was certain that these bullies would find her and hurt her family.

After admitting her story to a friend in law enforcement, he encouraged her to report it to the FBI Cybercrime Unit and go after her money.

The point of the story is to let your child know that cyberbullies don’t attack just kids. They go after everyone and it’s not shameful to get lured into a trap.

Prevention

It’s impossible to stop every instance of bullying but talking to your kids when they are young about cyberbullies will help them spot them online. You could even host a party with kids and parents and talk about cyberbullying and what kids have seen.

Tell them not to respond to any attacks online and block anyone who feels creepy in the social media they use.

If things escalate and the bully starts calling your child or threatening her in any way, call the local police and have them work with the cell phone provider for a trap trace on the phone if the bully’s number is unavailable. Another angle is to block the caller’s number or change your child’s phone number.

Make sure to chat regularly with your kids about what they’re seeing online. And let them know that any cyberbullying they are part of is unacceptable behavior.

The most crucial part of prevention is getting your kid to tell you what is going on and dealing with it together.

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