Bullying in all its forms, including cyberbullying, is a significant problem among elementary, middle, and high school students:
- 31.6 percent of students are bullied online and in school
- 11.5 percent of students are bullied at school only
- 10.5 percent of students are bullied online only
- 4.3 percent of students report no experience with bullying
The reality is that at this point in time many healthcare and educational professionals have come to conclude that cyberbullying has become something of a national crisis. There are some important facts and factors parents, teachers, and others need to consider in regard to teen cyberbullying:
- Signs of cyberbullying
- How youth react to cyberbullying
- How to prevent cyberbullying
- Why cyberbullying can lead to deaths by suicide
Signs of Cyberbullying
There are a number of primary signs that commonly are associated with a young person victimized by cyberbullying. These key signs include:
- Reluctance to share information about their online activities
- Pretends to be ill when a child is not actually physically under the weather
- Display nervousness when a text or email is received
- Unexplained anger when online or after spending time online
- Trouble falling asleep
- Experiences nightmares
- Sudden weight gain
- Sudden weight loss
- Appear weak or unwell with no clear indication of being actually ill
- Avoid family and friends
- Expend large amounts of time on simple tasks
How Youth React to Cyberbullying
Teens who are subjected to cyberbullying react in a variety of different ways. Indeed, a youth may react in more than one of these more commonplace ways when confronting a situation in which the young person is the victim of bullying. These include:
- Avoiding social situations
- Heightened emotions
- Trouble adjusting in school
Avoiding social situations: Teens who become the victims of cyberbullying are apt to withdraw from their friends. Victims of cyberbullying are prone to isolate significantly which can set the stage for suicidal ideation.
Secrecy: In the vast majority of situations, teen victims of cyberbullying tend to start living what fairly can be called a secret life. They may become particularly mum about their online activities.
Heightened emotions: Another way in which a teen reacts to being the target of cyberbullying is enflamed or heightened emotions. A young person may experience anger for no obvious reason. A teen may flare up significantly over seemingly minor issues.
Trouble adjusting in school: A vast majority of cyberbullied teens, in fact over 64 percent, have issues socializing in school and learning issues.
How to Prevent Cyberbullying
There are a number of important tactics that can be employed to aid to prevent cyberbullying among teens, thus lowering the risk of suicide. These include:
- Talk about cyberbullying
- Be a close friend
- Limit data access
- Know passwords
- Gather necessary information
- Install reliable online security
Talk about cyberbullying: Explain to a teen the ins and outs of cyberbullying. Let them known that it is a relatively common occurrence.
Be a close friend: Establish a close and trusting relationship with a teen. Let a young person know that he or she can come to you with any issue and that you will not judge.
Limit data access: Place reasonable and understandable controls on what a teen can and cannot do while online.
Know passwords: Be certain that a teenager provides all passwords associated with online use.
Gather necessary information: Collect and consider all information relevant to a possible cyberbullying situation.
Install reliable online security: Make certain that a computer system has reliable online security to keep teenagers safe. This can include specialized apps for parents concerned about the online access and activities of their children.
Why Cyberbullying Can Lead to Deaths by Suicide
There exist a number of reasons why cyberbullying can lead to suicidal ideation as well as actual suicides involving teenagers. These include:
- Low self-esteem
- Falling grades
Depression: Cyberbullying can result in the onset of depression for a teenager. In addition, it can seriously aggravate a preexisting depression situation. This ultimately can lead to a teen experiencing suicidal ideations and even to a point where a young person takes his or her life.
Fear: Cyberbullying can lead to a young person feeling profoundly unsafe. This can result in a teen fearing leaving home, going to school. It can also result in a teenager despairing and experiencing suicidal ideations.
Low self esteem: Cyberbullying can wreak a teenager’s self esteem. A teen can begin to feel that he or she is of no worth. This loss of self esteem can also lay the foundation for suicidal ideation.
Isolation: As mentioned previously, a teen victim of cyberbullying is prone to isolate. A lack of healthy connections with other people can lay a foundation for more desperate considerations like suicidal ideation.
Falling grades: A student experiencing cyberbullying is likely to experience problems studying. Falling grades can contribute to a sense of inadequacy which can also move a youth towards experiencing suicidal ideations.