Bullying among children and teens has been a serious issue in America for many years now. However, in years past, it most often occurred at school or on the playground. This made it easy for parents and teachers to see what was happening and then address the issue accordingly.

In today’s technological age, bullying has taken on a new form, referred to as cyberbullying. Because cyberbullying occurs digitally through text messages and social media, it is harder for parents to recognize that there is a problem.

Below are our private tutor’s 3 tips that all parents should know to keep their children from being victims of cyberbullying, or from becoming a Cyber Bully themselves.

Ground Rules

Establishing ground rules regarding your child’s use of social media and digital communication devices is a strong first step toward preventing cyberbullying. When your child is first allowed access to social media, it is important that you explain the responsibilities involved with having an account.

Explain to your children that cyberbullying (and bullying of any kind) is completely unacceptable, and their social media privileges will be revoked immediately if they violate this policy. Additionally, let them know that they can come to you if they were to be bullied online, and that you will not judge them.

A lot of parents establish upfront with their children that they reserve the right to review their children’s phone, internet history, or social media accounts at anytime. Explain to your children that they shouldn’t put anything on the internet, that they’re not comfortable saying directly in front of you. If they adhere to that guideline; they shouldn’t have a problem handing their phone over when you ask for it.

The ability to review these communications will make sure that your child isn’t bullying, and isn’t being bullied themselves.

Do Not Engage

There’s a particularly poignant phrase among avid users of social media; “don’t feed the trolls”.

If a child is being bullied online, the worst thing that they can do is engage. Explain to your child that drawing a reaction is exactly what the bully wants in hopes of finding more ammunition to use against their target. As a first line of defense, you or your child can report abusive behavior to the social media platform it occurred on. If it continues, you may consider involving school administrators to mediate the issue.

 Look For the Signs

If your child is being cyberbullied, they likely won’t come out and tell you. Most kids are too ashamed to let their parents know that they are in trouble. If your child suddenly starts making excuses to skip school, if they stop spending time with friends, if their grades start to drop, or if they start showing signs of general malaise, it’s worth taking a closer look to see what’s bothering them.

Cyberbullying is particularly dangerous because parents and teachers may not have any idea that it’s taking place. Start a dialogue with your child by asking them pointblank if they’ve ever been cyberbullied, or if they know someone who has. Try to let them dictate the conversation so you can have an open discussion that leads to you establishing an open door policy, where your child can feel comfortable bringing these problems to you.