Educate yourself and your child about the different forms of cyber bullying. Currently the most common forms are:
Masquerading and impersonation - This is one of the most elaborate forms of cyber bullying where the bully creates a false identity and pretends to be someone they are not. The bully may steal usernames and passwords to log in to another person's social networking account and use their profile to spread gossip, rumors, or humiliating information.
Flaming - The cyber-bully insults and provokes the victim over instant messages, email, Facebook, or chat rooms.
Outing - A form of cyber bullying where one shares the victim’s private information or recorded private call or conversation on a public website or via instant messages. The goal is to ridicule and embarrass the targeted individual.
Cyber stalking - This form of cyber bullying is characterized by repeated intimidating messages sent to a victim by the cyber bully. These messages are meant to instill fear in the victim and may threaten to move from online to in-person stalking.
Sexting - This has recently become the most alarming and widespread form of cyber bullying. The victims, usually young girls, are coerced to send their nude or sexually provocative photos or videos to a real or virtual boyfriend, and this information is later shared or posted publicly.
Exclusion - The victim is intentionally singled out and excluded from a certain online group.
The most common signs of cyber-bullying in children are:
A changed attitude towards technology: the child is either hesitant to go online or spends longer hours at the computer.
The child seems upset after using the computer or cell phone.
Fear of going to school or to social events (birthdays, school trips, outings).
A visible change in personality, behavior or mood.
A change in sleep pattern and appetite.
A sudden change of friends.
Withdrawn, sad, anxious, or agitated mood
Nervousness when receiving texts, e-mails, or instant messages.
The child hides or clears the computer screen or closes his cell phone when you enter.
Withdrawal from friends.
The child falls behind in schoolwork.
Many children, and especially teenagers, do not like to talk to their parents because the parents mostly talk about school, problems, and often educate or criticize their children. Try to reverse the roles: ask questions and let the child educate you about something that they know better (perhaps new technology). Show curiosity and try to avoid teaching or criticizing. Make positive comments about your child. Children are more likely to enjoy this type of conversation and will be more enthusiastic to interact with you.
Lucy Alexander knew something terrible had happened the moment she got a call from her son’s school saying that he had not turned up for his lessons.
“I felt in my gut something awful had happened.”
Her son Felix, 17, had been subjected to abuse on social media from the age of about 13, and had clearly been troubled by it. Mrs Alexander said: “He had been getting negative comments from people he knew, and people he didn’t know.
“He was called ‘black rat’ and ‘ugly’, people said he was worthless and everybody hated him. They didn’t understand or think through the consequences of what they said.”
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