We are at the dawn of a new era. Long gone are the playground bullies who rough you up for your dinner money, to make way for the evil trolls and online bullies who sit behind a smart phone reeking havoc behind the guise of a smart phone or laptop. 
In the ever-evolving landscape of digital communication, the evil of cyberbullying looms large, especially for teenagers. As parents, understanding what cyberbullying entails, recognising its signs, and equipping ourselves to guide our teens through these challenges is crucial. Let’s delve into how parents can support their children in navigating the complexities of the online world. 
Understanding Cyberbullying: 
Digital Harassment: 
Cyberbullying involves the use of digital platforms to harass, threaten, or humiliate others, often under the cloak of online anonymity. 
Forms of Cyberbullying: 
Familiarise yourself with various forms, including spreading rumours, sharing embarrassing information, or using hurtful language online. 
The most common places where cyberbullying occurs are: 
• Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok 
• Online gaming communities 
• Text messaging and messaging apps on mobile or tablet devices 
• Instant messaging, direct messaging, and online chatting over the internet 
• Online forums, chat rooms, and message boards, such as Reddit 
• Email 
Emotional Changes: 
Pay attention to sudden mood swings, withdrawal, or signs of distress in your teen, which could be indicators of cyberbullying. 
Behavioural Shifts: 
Drastic changes in academic performance, sleep patterns, or reluctance to use digital devices may signal a deeper issue. 
Open Communication: 
Foster an open dialogue with your teen. Let them know they can confide in you about their online experiences without fear of judgment. 
Empowering Your Teen to Combat Cyberbullying: 
Educate on Reporting: 
Teach your teen how to report incidents on digital platforms and the importance of blocking the perpetrator to prevent further harm. 
Documenting Evidence: 
Encourage your teen to document instances of cyberbullying when safe to do so, get them to keep a journal. A journal will allow them to offload emotions but also to provide evidence at a later date. 
This documentation can be valuable if intervention becomes necessary. 
Encourage Empathy: 
Instill the value of empathy in your child. Help them understand the impact of their words and actions on others. 
Promote Inclusivity 
Foster an inclusive online environment at home. Encourage positive interactions and discourage negative behaviour. 
Intervening as a Parent: 
Direct Communication: Let them know you are there for them. 
Listen to what they have to say and don’t over question. Use open questions to take the emotion out of it. 
Take them away from social media. Limit use or close accounts that are distressing or change contact details. 
Don’t pass judgement (they may blame themselves) you could drive them to keep quiet. 
Build up their self-esteem, get them to reconnect with things they enjoy 
Help them to create some healthy boundaries around contact 
Get them to notice their gut instinct and trust it 
Involving Trusted Adults: If the situation escalates, involve trusted adults such as school authorities or counsellors. Collaborative efforts can address the issue effectively. 
Lise Kaye-Bell is CEO of Soundproofbox, an organisation offering education, training to parents, workplaces and schools on the topics around unhealthy relationships including bullying and domestic abuse. 
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