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Cyberbullying has become an epidemic in our technology driven society, with access to the internet available 24/7. With increased access come greater concerns for parents, teachers and school counsellors as new technologies introduce new avenues for bullying. Cyberbullying – defined as the use of technology to bully a person or group with the intent to hurt them socially, psychologically or even physically – can be difficult to identify as signs are not always obvious. It is therefore imperative that as a community we know how to identify and prevent cyberbullying. 

Here’s how to spot and deal with cyberbullying.

Possible indicators of cyberbullying

  • Withdrawal from technology: noticeable decline in phone or computer usage.

  • Emotional behaviour: your child becomes withdrawn, moody, anxious or overly stressed, and is easily agitated.

  • Social behaviour: look for change in eating or sleeping habits, nightmares at night, no longer wanting to participate in activities they once enjoyed, changing friends, self-harm, attempting or threatening suicide.

  • Academic behaviour: look for reduced enthusiasm towards schooling, such as not wanting to go to school, getting into trouble with teachers or a drop in grades.

If you are concerned that your son or daughter might be bullying others, keep an eye on their behaviour around the computer. If they hide windows when someone comes near, appear nervous or agitated while on the computer or phone, or become secretive about what they are doing on the computer, then you might need to delve deeper.

How to prevent cyberbullying

There are many actions that can be taken at home to prevent cyberbullying.

  1. Establish firm rules about internet use

  2. Set clear limits on screen time

  3. Talk about possible negative consequences in advance. 

The internet can be a positive influence for young people to connect and access a wealth of information. We – as parents, guardians and educators – need to pay attention, assess, speak and listen openly about online behaviours. 

If you suspect your child or child’s peer is a bully or a victim of bullying, please refer and raise your concerns with your child’s teacher or the school psychologist. 

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