Worried about your kids being bullied at school? With social media and smartphones becoming more popular, many kids may experience cyberbullying. An important differentiation between a bully and cyberbully is that the cyberbully has the ability to engage in the bullying on a much larger scale and reach a wide audience through the use of technology.
We spoke to Jennifer Gentile, MM, PsyD, a licensed psychologist who treats patients using LiveHealth Online Psychology, about cyberbullying and what you can teach your kids to watch out for when they spend time on the internet.
- Help them understand it. Knowing what cyberbullying is important for your children to know what to look out for, as well as teaching them not to be a cyberbully themselves. Give them examples of where they may encounter cyberbullying. Gentile says examples include. “making negative comments about a person’s social media profile picture, intimidating a person through repeated aggressive emails, or sharing private information with a larger audience.”
- Be careful on social media. Make sure your kids keep their social media profiles private and remind them they should only accept friend requests from people they know.
- Be Yourself, even in a group text. Participation in group chats and texts can lead the group to think where people make decisions as a group that they might not do if they were making the decision on their own. ‘Speaking out when you don’t agree with the way someone is acting is important and shows your strength as an individual,” Gentile says.
- Reach out if you need help. Don’t wait until you are in over your head to reach out to adult. The longstanding and potentially serious consequences of cyberbullying warrant adult intervention sooner rather than later.
Comments and opinions are from Jennifer Gentile, MM, PsyD, alone. She is a licensed-therapist who treats patients using LiveHealth Online Psychology.