Dr. Goschi's Blog

Cyber-bullying – Serious Consequences

Never mind the bullying in the classroom.  The Internet has replaced that with a new,  more serious form of bullying.  Young children – middle school- on up are spending more time on the Internet.  Most of the kids on face book or other social networks on the web would describe their experiences as enjoyable.  However, it doesn’t take long for seemingly harmless interactions to become seriously damaging.  Viral is the term used to describe Internet communications that spread rapidly.  One negative comment can become hundreds.  To the vulnerable child these condemning communications can become extremely overwhelming.

Pulling pranks on eachother is an age old practice.  Remember back to grade school when a fellow student pulled your chair out just as you were going to sit down.  Or, spending hours making prank phone calls to fellow class mates.  Well, some of the teasing behavior on the web can be as harmless as these innocuous pranks.

Seemingly innocent pranks can begin to go wrong when they are done incessantly or the same individual is targeted.  It’s one thing when a child’s bff pulls a joke on them versus someone who doesn’t care about your child.  If your child suffers from self-esteem issues or is different in any meaningful way then they become prey to the bullies of the world.  We all know that the bully is someone who is insecure and only feels good about themselves if they have exerted power and control over another person.  However, when this happens in a classroom the teacher and counselor can intervene.  Who is there on the Internet to manage the conflict?

In the recent news another shocking story about a child that committed suicide as a result of cyber bullying was written.  The bullying on the Internet can become far fiercer than in the playground or high school cafeteria.  Often, the child who is bullying can maintain an anonymous identity.  This opens the flood gates for a child who has issues to let loose.  As mentioned earlier, there are fewer controls.  Only their peers are available to set limits.   And, we know this doesn’t work.

How can we prevent our children from either becoming victims or victimizing others?  The answer is not restricting out children completely from interacting via a medium that is becoming ever more important in our culture.  Rather, I am an advocate of frequently, without warning, checking your child’s social networks.  I really encourage you to do so when your child is present rather than on the sly while they’re at school.  You enhance the intimacy between the two of you by doing this.  In addition, it affords you a teaching opportunity.  You can talk to your child about the way they present themselves to others or the individuals he/she chooses to interact with on the social sites.  Look at these moments as opportunities to help your child grow.  If you see any signs of bullying others or being bullied view it as a “cry for help.”  Have a serious talk about possible solutions.  Now you can restrict social networking until you have resolved the issues.  Individual and/or family therapy are the most effective means of helping your child heal and emotionally mature.   Never be afraid to be actively be involved in your child’s life – even your teenager.  You’ll be grateful you did.

Leave a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

(will not be published)