The temperatures may still be rising, but the summer break has come to an end. Back to school season is often an exciting time for teenagers and young adults. Countless hours have been devoted to ensuring wardrobes are refreshed, school supplies are purchased, and class schedules are set.
However in this age of technology and social networking, it is important that we also prepare our teens for an increasing threat to their emotional-wellness: Cyberbullying.
While physical bullying actually decreases as a student transitions into high school, verbal and emotional bullying remains constant throughout adolescence and young adulthood. This was evident most recently during this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. 20 year old gymnast Gabby Douglas was criticized via multiple social media platforms for not placing her hand over her heart during a medal ceremony and for appearing “moody” while watching other gymnasts compete. Douglas was even given the mean-spirited nickname “Crabby Gabby” that was spread across several social media platforms by online bullies. Douglas was previously subjected to similar online ridicule for the appearance of her hair as a 16 year old during the 2012 Olympic Games in London. In an interview with CNN, her mother reported how emotionally damaging both experiences had been for her incredibly accomplished daughter.
Cyber-bullying is one of the most difficult types of bullying to combat. Parents often feel powerless to protect their child from bullies that are often faceless and nameless due to the anonymity these internet platforms provide. It is the very nature of social networking to facilitate the spread of information quickly and efficiently to a wide audience. Hurtful information can go far beyond the confines of a school and into the community at large, resulting in emotionally devastating effects on the victim.
The following tips from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.stopbullying.gov, are a beneficial guide to help secure the emotional-wellness of your child, regardless of the current influence of bullies on their lives:
- Talk with your kids about online issues regularly.
- Know the sites your kids visit and their online activities.
- Install parental control filtering software or monitoring programs.
- Have a sense of what they do online and in texts. Learn about the sites they like. Try out the devices they use.
- Ask for their passwords, but tell them you’ll only use them in case of emergency.
- Ask to “friend” or “follow” your kids on social media sites or ask another trusted adult to do so.
- Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyber-bullied.
If your child or someone you know is a victim of bullying, allow Brooklyn Marriage & Family Therapy, PLLC to be a source of support by visiting www.BrooklynMFT.com for more information on our Counseling Services. Life is about relationships. Don’t wait another minute, contact us today!.