How to identify Cyberbullying?
The internet has changed the way we live life, perform tasks or talk to anyone. We are faster, sharper and more intelligent due to information being dispersed at lightning speeds. We all might agree to the new world the internet has opened for us and how it has brought new opportunities for us, however, many of us are unaware of the dark side of the internet. And one of the elements that has given the internet a bad name is Cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is bullying or harassment perpetrated via electronic means. The absence of the physical aspect doesn’t make cyberbullying any less harmful, in fact it causes more harm to the victim as the wounds of cyberbullying are invisible and the effects could be life-long.
There have been cases where victimspeople had to change homes, schools due to cyberbullying, and instances of people taking extreme steps such as suicide have seen a steady rise in India. However, like the age-old adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ cyberbullying too can be prevented from maturing by identifying it at the right time. Here are a few tips for identifying cyberbullying.
- Change in behaviour – Majority of cyberbullying victims choose to stay silent if they have been bullied online and this usually happens after they’ve checked their phone or laptop. If you find them awkwardly silent or getting irritated at the tiniest of things, then something is up. Fear and anxiety are the first signs that victims go through followed by loneliness & helplessness.These emotions can make them very reactive & you may find them getting irritated at smallest things. Give them the space & hope to feel safe Try to talk to them but in a very gentle way and encourage them to speak up.
- Change in food & sleep patterns: Food & sleep are the first ones to go for a toss when we experience any form of emotional distress. Victimsdistress Victims can be up all night and would prefer to sleep in the day, just to avoid confrontation or not sleep at all. Disturbance in sleep cycles often leads to mood swings and this can be harmful if continued for long. Urges for junk food may rise or complete lack of urge to eat. Being vigilant and checking on them with care will help them feel understood. tCommunication and assurance will make them feel safer.
- Avoidance To Visit Particular Places: In case the victim is a student, avoiding school is a classic trait of being bullied. They know that their classmates know and in some cases the bully too is present there. Take a methodical approach towards confrontation which includes speaking to your child, then to the school authorities and insist on counselling so on.
- Secretive When Using Mobile Phones Or Laptops: Most victims like to stay alone when they are online and this also happens once they’ve been bullied online. Bullies make the victim believe it is their fault & they have brought this on themselves. It is important to create non judgemental space & convince them to come out with whatever is happening with them.
Bonus Fact: Most of the bullies themselves are victims, so it is important to tread carefully before making any moves. Consult a cyber expert like CyberBAAP before making any move.