How can cyberbullying be prevented

Cyberbullying among children - consequences,
Measures and Prevention

In modern times, communication via social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp etc. is gaining in importance among children and young people. Children can exchange ideas with one another via social networks, make and maintain contacts. But unfortunately there are also risks associated with internet-based communication. As with bullying in the schoolyard, insults and the spread of rumors can be transmitted to the Internet. This phenomenon comes from English and is called cyberbullying or cyberbullying.

Many parents do not know what to do with the term cyberbullying. This article gives you a definition of the term and important information on how you can recognize warning signals in good time and protect your child. You will also receive useful information and assistance to help you with cyberbullying.

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is aggressive behavior in the form of harassment, exposure and defamation via electronic communication channels. The most popular places for cyberbullying are social networks such as Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube etc. Insulting texts, publicly shared personal or fake information and sending pictures that were taken without permission are forms of cyberbullying. While “offline bullying” is limited in time and place, cyberbullying can take place around the clock via mobile phones and the Internet.

In addition, this type of insult reaches a larger audience than in the schoolyard. Several people can participate in cyberbullying on the Internet and remain anonymous. The motives for
Cyberbullying is mostly banal. For some perpetrators, external characteristics such as appearance and clothing, but also behavior, are sufficient reasons for cyberbullying. The anonymity of the internet creates uninhibited online communication in which the Perpetrator theNot recognizing the consequences of your actions on the Internet.  

A representative study by the media education research association Südwest "Jugend, Information, (Multi-) Media 2017" showed that every fifth person in the age group between 12 and 19 was bullied in social networks. Around a third of the young people surveyed stated that they had noticed a cyberbullying incident among their circle of friends (source: mpfs.de).

How do you recognize cyberbullying in your child?

Out of shame and fear of incomprehension, children are reluctant to turn to their parents when they have problems. Similar to bullying in the schoolyard, however, there iscertain symptoms that suggest cyberbullying. Watch out for these symptoms in your child so that you can act in good time and avoid a crisis situation.

These can be, for example, the following behavioral characteristics:

  • Psychological effects
    lack of self-confidence, growing vulnerability, sleep disorders, loss of appetite, depression, reticence, fear, concentration problems
  • Physical impact
    Headache, stomach ache
  • Behavior changes at home
    Aggressiveness, private and social withdrawal, no longer interested in hobbies, reluctant to leave the house
  • Changes in behavior in school
    Refusal to attend school, drop in performance, not taking part in lessons, no social contact during breaks or during group work, demarcation from classmates

What to do about cyberbullying

In general, it makes sense to know about your child's activities on the internet and to be interested in their internet behavior. You should research social networks with your child. In this way you can agree on chat rules with your child for the right behavior and teach them to be respectful. Explain to your child that when creating profiles on social networks, care should be taken to ensure that they are not public and that they reveal too much information.The less information is published, the more protected your child is on social networks.

Do you have any suspicion or even certainty that your child has been affected by cyberbullying, you shouldto act quickly

  • Find a conversation and talk to your child without reproach
  • Take your child's concerns seriously and respond with understanding and sensitivity
  • Make it clear to your child that they are not to blame for the situation
  • Convince your child that they are great the way they are
  • Look for solutions together
  • Secure evidence with screenshots
  • Block the cyberbully
  • If possible, change your email addresses, mobile phone numbers, etc.
  • Contact the website administrator to remove the offending content from the network and to avoid further publication
  • Contact the school to raise awareness of bullying
  • You should report serious insults and threats to the police

It is not advisable to punish your child with an internet and cell phone ban - even if you want to protect your child. Build a lot more trust by doing a clear regulation for cell phone and internet use put up. Trust enables children to confide in themselves again in the event of problems and to specifically ask for help without the fear of punishment.

Support and help with cyberbullying

In addition to people from the immediate environment and the school, there areFree advice centers in many places for cyberbullying. These include women's and children's shelters, public advice centers as well as the police and social-psychiatric services. In addition, the number against Kummer offers an anonymous and free onetelephone help. There is also telephone counseling for children (0800 111 0333) or for parents (0800 111 0550), which provide helpful and useful tips against cyberbullying. AlsoThere are helpful initiatives on the Internet to cyberbullying.

The Alliance against Cyberbullyingdeals extensively with the topic of cyberbullying and offers advice for both children and parents. On this website you will also find information about your own studies. The website saferinternet.at gives victims and relatives useful tips and provides brochures and books on cyberbullying. On the website juuuport.de Affected people can receive information and tips from other young people in the event of problems on the Internet, can exchange ideas with them and seek advice.LOOK AT! is an initiative that provides help in dealing with the media.

You can find general information about cyberbullying and security on the Internet at klicksafe.de. In addition, Klicksafe offers the "Cyber ​​bullying first aid app" at. Video tutorials show the first steps to combat cyberbullying and provide helpful information on how to block, delete and report negative content on social networks.

Preventive measures against cyberbullying

The interaction of several factors is important for the prevention of cyberbullying. The focus is on promoting media skills. In our article "Responsible use of PCs, smartphones & Co. for children", you will find out how you can teach your children how to use Internet-enabled devices correctly and which limits make sense for their use. In addition, in the article “Safe on the Internet” you can read how you can protect your children on the Internet and which technical security measures you should pay attention to. But the teaching of communicative and social skills are also crucial for prevention. Because as in real life, your own behavior in internet-based communication is crucial. Conscientious communication and interaction online reduces the likelihood of cyberbullying.

Since children have to learn these factors first, it is advisable to use thePromote media literacy in school or at home. Teach your children that people should be polite and respectful of one another and communicate with one another on the Internet.

Conclusion

A steadily growing proportion of communication takes place via the Internet and via mobile phone. In addition to the positive properties of social networks, bullying in the form of cyberbullying emerged in the digital world. You can prevent cyberbullying by promoting your children's media skills and clearly regulating their use of the Internet and mobile phones. Inquire about your children's internet activities and talk openly with them about cyberbullying. Take your children's concerns seriously, be there for your children and look for solutions together.
 
Further useful information and support around cyberbullying can be found at:

  • www.klicksafe.de/
  • www.schau-hin.info/
  • www.buendnis-gegen-cybermobbing.de/
  • www.juuuport.de/beratung/
  • www.saferinternet.at/
  • www.nummergegenkummer.de/
  • www.cybermobbing-hilfe.de/