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With increasing time spent online, you might be worried about your child and cyberbullying. Understanding cyberbullying can help you to support them to stay safe online.

Upset teen girl sitting on couch being cyberbullied

Conflict between young people is a normal part of growing up, cyberbullying is not

You may have heard how harmful cyberbullying is but you may feel like you don’t really understand it.

  • Cyberbullying is bullying that uses electronic means like the internet or mobile phones to aggressively and intentionally harm someone
  • Cyberbullying can include name calling, abusive comments, spreading rumours, threats of physical harm, being ignored or excluded, having opinions slammed, online impersonation, being sent rude or upsetting images, or having personal information or images sent or shared with others
  • Cyberbullying is most common in late primary school and early high school and up to half of all young people have experienced it

Cyberbullying can be difficult for parents to detect because it's covert

Here are some things you might notice your child doing if they're being cyberbullied.

Socialising less with friends and family
Reducing time online or being jumpy when getting text or emails
Avoiding school and dropping out of sports and other activities
Losing self-esteem or confidence
Feeling anxious, sad, embarrassed, angry or physically sick
Changing moods, behaviour, self-harm and suicidal thoughts

You might feel lost and unsure about what you can do to help your child with cyberbullying

Take the time to talk to them. Be open to listening and understanding their experience of cyberbullying.

Take the cyberbullying seriously

Help them identify what cyberbullying is

Find out details about the cyberbullying

Reassure them that they're loved

Find out how your child has reacted to it

Teach them about power dynamics that underlie bullying behaviour

Work together to figure out ways they can take back power from those bullying

Involve them in decision making at home to increase their sense of power and control

Role model calmly managing your own emotions

Create opportunities to expand their support friendships

Support them to speak to another trusted adult or counsellor

Advise them to avoid opening emails or responding to the cyberbullying

Respect that they may not want to limit online access as this can seem like a punishment and lead to greater social isolation

There are a number of actions you could take to stop the cyberbullying from continuing.

Consider talking through the following options together:

  • Notifying the school of the cyberbullying

  • Find out more about the school’s anti-bullying policies

  • Help them to keep a record of the bullying in case it needs to be reported

  • Reporting serious cases of cyberbullying to the Police - cyber stalking, which is repeated harassment usually containing threatening messages with the aim to intimidate and create fear, is a crime and should always be reported

  • Help your child to “call out” the bullying behaviour

  • Encourage them to use statements like “You are going too far – this is bullying and I want you to stop”

  • Suggest your child ‘block’ or remove people bullying them from their friend list and change their username or mobile number

  • Help them file a complaint with the website manager

  • Help them spend some time away from the computer and mobile phone by  increasing their options for doing other fun activities

  • Follow up after your child tries a solution to see how it went

  • Check out the eSafety website for more information on cyberbullying and access to their reporting and complaints system

Report Cyberbullying

Your child is not alone when it comes to dealing with cyberbullying! You can make a complaint to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

“I feel so unqualified to help my child with cyberbullying. When I was younger, bullies didn’t hide behind a screen or come into your house uninvited” - Ally, parent of children 7 and 10 year old

Cyberbullying is serious and can have long lasting impacts on your child

This type of bullying can be hard for kids to escape. It follows them home and doesn’t end when the school day finishes. Its impacts can be devastating.

Encourage them to contact Kids Helpline for additional support, tips and strategies to overcome cyberbullying. They can call us, start a WebChat or email us today.

As a parent, you're not alone in supporting your child to manage cyberbullying. If you're struggling with this issue, call the Parentline service in your State or Territory and talk through your options with a counsellor.

You could also visit the eSafety website to find out more about cyberbullying and what you can do.

This content was last reviewed 08/03/2018

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