YMCA NYC Shares 6 Tips to Deal with Cyberbullying for Kids & Teens
Being online and using social networks can be an enjoyable experience. Except when cyberbullying causes it not to be. With more children and teens spending greater amounts of time socializing online and using cell phones than in previous generations, research shows the prevalence of cyberbullying has increased as well.
Cyberbullying can cause a range of serious and negative mental, physical and behavioral effects in young people, which can include and lead to problems such as anxiety, substance abuse, self-harm and even suicidal thoughts or actions.
But families with children and teens dealing with this issue don't have to feel hopeless. Recent research shows that frequent and positive interactions with family members – from eating meals together to simply engaging in regular conversation – can help reduce the negative impact of cyberbullying.[Family Dinners May Help Kids Cope with Cyberbullying." Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 01 Sept. 2014. Web. 03 Apr. 2015.]
“Between texting, social media sites and live video streaming, cyberbullying is easier than ever, but the signs are often difficult to spot,” said Yoko Liriano, Director of City-Wide Teen Programs. “While we can’t prevent all bullying, we can help parents and families understand and recognize the issue, and give them tips to help their kids cope with others’ hurtful actions.”
The YMCA of Greater New York recommends these tips to help parents protect their children and teens from the harmful effects of cyberbullying.
1. Make face time with your kids – the old fashioned way. Spend time with your kids every day and give them your full, undivided attention. Turn off cell phones, TVs and computers to create a conversation-friendly environment.
2. Learn the signs. A child who is being bullied may have a loss of appetite, may lose interest in favorite activities and may withdraw socially and emotionally in other ways. Watch for changes in behavior and seek help if you suspect something is wrong.
3. Be available to talk – but don’t force it. Kids may feel embarrassed, ashamed, angry or confused about being bullied, and it may be difficult for them to talk about it with you. Give them time to open up and let them know you are there and will be supportive if they need your help.
4. Let them know it’s not their fault. Never blame a child for being bullied or for not “fighting back.” It can be helpful to share one or two your own personal stories so they know they the only ones to experience this kind of behavior or feel the way they do.
5. Help find positive ways for them to feel empowered and regain self-esteem. Show that you are committed to helping them resolve the issue, and talk through ways to address or cope with the bullying behavior.
6. Be a model for kind behavior. Set the right example for your kids and avoid making negative or bullying comments about others – online or in person.
The YMCA of Greater New York offers a variety of programs and services for families and adolescents – including counseling – in a positive an affirming environment.
For more information, visit www.ymcanyc.org