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6 Signs Your Child Is a Victim of Cyberbullying

6 Signs Your Child Is a Victim of Cyberbullying

Learn how to read the signs of cyberbullying, and how you can help your teen if she's being cyberbullied.


Now that our kids are interacting on the Internet more than ever, the age-old act of bullying has gone from the playground to online. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, 36.5 percent of children aged 12-17 years old say they have been cyberbullied. While there are now apps like mSpy that allow parents to monitor their child’s communication online, it’s difficult to predict or prevent a child from being a target.
   

6 Warning Signs of Cyberbullying

There are, however, some important things to look for so you can stay alert and offer support.
   

Your child deletes current or starts new social media accounts. 

If you notice your child is suddenly using her phone (or other devices) more or less than usual, take note—especially if she is wary to discuss it. Another important red flag is if she shuts down existing social media accounts and/or open new ones. 

“If you see that your kid is not interested in their phone, that’s a big sign,” says Ross Ellis, founder and CEO of STOMP Out Bullying, the leading bullying prevention nonprofit.
   

Your child engages in emotional texting.

Does he get upset or angry when a text or email comes in? Does he laugh hysterically at something but won’t explain why? It’s important to pay attention to unusual emotional reactions to online communication—it could mean your child is feeling uncomfortable with something that’s developing.
   

Your child has uncharacteristic mood swings.

Kids who are being cyberbullied often become withdrawn and depressed, and lose interest in activities, Ellis says. She can also become angry or anxious or complain of feeling ill more often. Take any change in mood seriously.
   

Your child's behavior changes suddenly.

Ellis also recommends looking out for a decline in grades, or changes in eating and sleeping habits. Your child may also change his route home from school or start refusing to go to school all together.
   



Your child is more secretive than usual.

Tweens and teens are notoriously private but it’s wise to start investigating if your child starts to seem much more concerned about hiding her screen.
   

Your child now avoids hanging out with friends.

If your child suddenly wants to avoid certain social situations, like hanging out with a specific group of friends, or doing a certain activity, he may be being bullied, Ellis says.
   

What to Do If Your Child Is a Victim of Cyberbullying

If you think your child might be a victim, it’s important to offer her support—but approach it delicately. Ellis recommends talking in general terms rather than asking directly. For example: “I’m reading a lot about cyberbullying and bullying and it’s really happening a lot. Does it happen at your school? Do you know anyone it’s happening to?” Even if she doesn’t open up, it’s important to reinforce that you are there for her, you love her, and will do your best to help.

If you find out he is being cyberbullied, stopbullying.gov recommends keeping a record and screenshots, then reporting directly to the social media platform as well as your child’s school. If your child is receiving threats of violence or worse, or if a crime or illegal behavior is happening, report it to the police.

Finally, make sure your child knows the rules of the cyber road. “A parent has to be computer savvy,” Ellis says. “You have to communicate with your kids constantly. It’s not a one-time conversation. Parents need to raise responsible digital citizens because if they don’t, there’s a possibility their kids are going to bully someone, or they will be bullied.”

For more help and support, visit stompoutbullying.org and staysafeonline.org.

Emma Steven

Author: Emma Steven is a British freelance writer living in Manhattan with her husband, two small kids, and two cats. Previously the Manhattan calendar editor for NYMetroParents.com, she writes about parenting and New York City. When asked about what she most misses about the UK she’s most likely to say British humor and least likely to say British weather. See More

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