It sounds like a different language but one our children are becoming all too familiar with. From “catfishing” to “fraping” to a “roasting”, there are terms flying around that as parents, we need to be aware of, if not only to be able to speak to our children in the language they are using and help open up lines of communication.
Did you know that online searches for the term cyberbullying soar by 8 times in the month of October? Google metrics data from 2015 shows the total number of UK searches in English of ‘cyberbullying’ in 2015. July and August combined had 17,500 searches. September and October combined had 134,500 searches and the month of October alone saw 74,000 searches. Experts say this rise is due to children being back to school, making this a peak time of year for this issue.
Internet Matters, a not-for-profit organisation has launched a hard-hitting campaign to highlight the changing face of bullying in the digital age – and how parents’ advice should also shift with the times. Three in five parents are said to be ‘concerned’ about the risks of cyberbullying and one in 10 say their children have been involved in a cyberbullying incident. It is just as much of a worry as online grooming and sexting, according to a survey of 1,500 parents by Internet Matters.
Nearly one in 10 (9%) of parents polled said their children had been involved in a cyberbullying incident, but despite the widespread concern about the topic, 32% said they had yet to talk to their children about it. Here is their advice on tackling the problem.
What to do if your child is being cyberbullied
- Talk about it – find the right time to approach you child if you think they’re being bullied
- Show your support – be calm and considered and tell them how you’ll help them get through it
- Don’t stop them going online – taking away their devices or restricting usage might make things worse and make your child feel more isolated
- Help them to deal with it themselves – if it’s among school friends, advise them to tell the person how it made them feel and ask to take any comments or pictures down
- Don’t retaliate – getting angry won’t help, advise your child not to respond to abusive messages and leave conversations if they’re uncomfortable
- Block the bullies – if the messages are repeated block and report the sender to the social network or gaming platform
- Keep the evidence – take screenshots in case you need them later as proof of what’s happened
- Don’t deal with it alone – talk to friends for support and if necessary your child’s school who will have an anti-bullying policy
Psychologist and TV presenter Dr. Linda Papadopoulos, is an ambassador for the campaign and says that victims of cyberbullying can find it hard to open up to their parents and gives advice on the signs parents need to look out for.
Dr. Papadopoulos said: “Bullying is not confined to the school playground any more. The digital age means it can follow you home and can be just as hurtful as physical bullying. Sometimes children don’t want to talk about what is happening to them online. They may feel helpless or worry their parents will take away their phones or ban them from using tech. It’s vital that parents learn how to pick up the signs, especially at this time of the year when there is a rise in the number of people seeking information about the issue.”
Internet Matters has worked with the Anti-Bullying Alliance to bring together comprehensive new information, guidance and resources for parents on its website, available at internetmatters.org/cyberbullying.
The website offers help on how to protect children from cyberbullying, by learning how it might affect them and, in particular, the signs to watch out for. There is advice on how to talk about cyberbullying with your child, technical tools you can use to help manage any potential risks and cyberbullying terms to look out for.
Carolyn Bunting, General Manager of Internet Matters, said: “This time of the year can create a perfect storm for cyberbullying. Many children may be getting their first smartphone as they start at a new school and find a wider network of friends online.
“Connecting with friends on social media and online can be liberating and empowering for children, which makes cyberbullying all the more impactful.
“We have worked with the leading bullying experts in the country to produce advice with resources to help parents understand the issues and steps they can take.”
Here are some of the common cyberbullying terms:
- Catfishing – stealing someone’s profile or setting up fake profiles to lure people into starting online relationships
- Cyberstalking – sending repeated and frequent messages that include real threats of physical harm
- Dissing – sending or posting information that’s intended to damage someone’s reputation
- Flaming – sending angry, abusive online messages to intentionally provoke someone into starting an argument
- Fraping – logging into someone else’s account, impersonating them or posting inappropriate content in their name
- Griefing – abusing and angering people through online gaming
- Roasting – ganging up on an individual online and sending offensive abuse until the victim is seen to ‘crack’
Is cyberbullying something you have noticed or have experience of? How did you resolve it? Tell us your story in the comments.