There is a thin line between cyberbullying and suicides. The wave of suicide attempts among teens in recent years has drawn much attention to this problem. In this article we will look at cyberbullying as the phenomenon leading to suicides among teens. Unfortunately, many parents don`t understand the devastating effects of cyberbullying and still consider it a childish misbehaving or a part of growing up.
Cyberbullying suicide stats
Cyberbullying is relatively new form of ordinary bullying. Online bullying means spreading rumors or hateful messages against another person with the help of electronic devices. The main sources are social media sites like Facebook, Ask.fm and others. The statistics on cyberbullying and suicide among teens is alarming:
- only 9% of parents are aware that their child was bullied online;
- 42% of teens report being bullied online;
- 81% of teens agree that it is much easier to bully people online due to the anonymity;
- 20% of cyberbullied kids think about suicide;
- 16% consider suicide, 13% create a plan and 8% make a real attempt;
- Only 1 in 5 of cyberbullying cases is reported to authorities.
Facts about cyberbullying
More than 50% of teens have experienced cyberbullying in the USA. Over past decade, the suicide cases among teens linked to cyberbullying has grown. The most popular platform for cyberbullying is anonymous sites like Ask.fm, Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp and others.
- Joshua Unsworth committed suicide after being frequent cyberbullied on Ask.fm. He was teased about his family and his peers played jokes about his relationships. Consequently, this wave of cyberbullying lead to deep depression and suicide.
- Erin Gallagher took her own life after being bullied for a long time on the same social media page as Joshua. She told bullies that she would take her own life, but insulting messages about her appearance didn`t stop.
- Jessica Laney, killed herself after receiving frequent comments about her excess pounds on the Net.
- A case of Amanda Todd, Canadian girl who took her own life after being cyberbullied for a long time on the Facebook. She posted a video which was a cry for help. Although she got a lot of support from the internet community she was already over the age.
Unfortunately, she committed suicide a few days after publishing this video.
These are only few examples of many cases that show that online bullying can lead to suicide.
Every parent needs to be aware of warning cyberbullying signs and keep an eye on their kids` online behavior. Here is the list of widely spread cyberbullying signs:
You need to raise a red flag if your child:
- sleeps bad at night or wakes up later than usual;
- prefer staying home than hanging around with friends;
- has lack of emotions or nervous breakdowns.
- Low self-esteem
As a parent you need to pay attention to the symptoms of low self-esteem and notice them in time. For example, your beautiful and slim daughter out of the blue starts saying that she is ugly and fat.
The other warning sign is a stroke of unreasonable aggression. Your child is angry every time they are taking the phone or chatting? Then it is high time to have a conversation.
- First-hand bullying
If your child has already been bullied, then the risks to get involved in cyberbullying are much higher. Unfortunately, having access to the modern gadgets, cyberbullying may never stop.
The other warning signs include drug or alcohol intake, mental problems, mood swings and skipping school.
- Bad grades
Losing focus on homework or extra-curricular activities is common for kids when being cyberbullied. If your kid had always had A grades and now receives C, D or E it is high time to have a conversation.
How to prevent cyberbullying
Modern technologies allow parents to choose what, when and how their kids use gadgets and the Internet itself. Before giving a phone to your child, parents need to study how they can moderate their kids` online activity and make it safe.
- Have a conversation
First of all, have a talk with your child. It is very important to draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior on the Net. Cyberbullying is a difficult issue both for parents and kids. Regardless of the fact that it can be difficult to discuss it, parents and kids need to keep their communication lines open. Kids need to feel comfortable, talking about their social media sites usage with parents.
- Keep an eye on your kid`s accounts
Secondly, parents need to “follow” their kids online accounts. It may help better understand your kid`s online world and make sure your child is safe. Without understanding all sides of the situation, it can be difficult to react correctly to cyberbullying. That`s why it is important to understand the problem, study the statistics and possible consequences.
- Monitor your kid`s phone
Thirdly, there are a lot of different monitoring tools and apps for parents to protect their child from cyberbullying. Using Kidgy, your low-cost nanny, parents are able to monitor text messages, reducing the possibility of receiving unwanted messages. Checking the Internet history and monitoring application usage, parents are able to reduce cyberbullying risks.
With the tool like Kidgy it is easy to keep eyes wide open and protect kids from devastating effects of cyberbullying phenomenon. It is a crucial point to have a conversation about digital safety with your child as often as possible.
- Report the issue
Cyberbullying is not a problem to be handled alone. If cyberbullying occurred at school, it is important to report this issue to the school authorities. The most important thing is to create awareness and protect other kids from this destructing phenomenon. For example, special anti-cyberbullying clubs can be created. There are teachers and psychologists who can explain why this issue is crucial and what consequences it may have. If the school authority is not able to react to cyberbullying it is worth contacting the police.
If cyberbullying occurred on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you need to report them as well. They will investigate the cyberbullying claims, especially when young generation is involved.
Cyberbullying is an issue that quickly gets out of control. While ordinary bullying can be easily stopped at school, cyberbullying prolongs outside the school hours. Cyberbullying has negative impacts on psychological and emotional health of teens. It leads to nervousness, anxiety, depression and in worst case – suicide. As a parent your duty is to protect your child from online bullying and moderate their Internet usage.