Stomp Out Cyber Bullying in Teen Dating
One out of every 4 teens has experienced cyber bullying, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center. It’s important to understand cyber bullying and its effects on teens, particularly in teenage relationships. Digital dating abuse, or the use of electronic communications to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner, is becoming increasingly common with the widespread use of technology. In honor of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month this February, take the time to teach your teen about cyberbullying and its prevalence in relationships so together, you can stop violence from occurring.
What is cyber bullying?
Cyber bullying is the use of electronic communication to bully a person. Electronic communication devices include cellphones, tablets and computers. Remember, cyber bullying can occur in both romantic and platonic relationships. Examples of cyber bullying in teen relationships include the following:
- Sexting—sending sexually explicit text messages or photos with an electronic device. Examples can include pressuring a romantic partner to send nude photographs or sending texts requesting sexual actions.
- Cyber stalking—using the internet or electronic communications to harass or keep tabs on a partner. Examples can include threatening emails, texts or posts on social media that are sent to or directed to a romantic partner.
- Slander—publicly sharing a false statement with the intent to damage a reputation. Examples can include spreading rumors or false claims online about a romantic partner.
What are the effects of cyber bullying on your teen?
If your teen is being cyber bullied by his or her significant other, he or she may feel it is necessary to always be on the phone or connected online to avoid angering his or her partner. Your teen may also be overly protective of his or her phone to avoid letting you see what is going on.
Cyber bullying may cause your teen’s performance to suffer in school as he or she begins to skip class or receive bad grades. School frustrations can then translate to your teen’s personal life, as your teen may act out at home and experiment with new behaviors, like drugs or alcohol, to cope with his or her mental and emotional distress.
Cyber bullying can also lead to depression, anxiety or even suicide. These illnesses can impact your teen’s outlook on life, dealing a severe blow to his or her confidence. Once your teen’s confidence is shaken, your teen will find it harder to succeed in school and social settings.
How can you prevent your teen from being cyber bullied?
Mentor your teen about the facts and effects of cyber bullying, as well as the signs of digital abuse in romantic relationships. It is likely that your teen has been exposed to cyber bullying and doesn’t yet know what it is. Communicate to your teen that you can be trusted with any questions or problems he or she may have with cyber bullying.
Become aware of the websites your teen visits. Consider “friending” them on social media to monitor his or her activity online. Talk to your teen about what should and should not be posted online. Then, appoint online ground rules for your teen to follow and consequences if the rules are broken.
Make it clear that cyber bullying can occur via smartphones as well. Cyber bullies will use the same bullying techniques on a smartphone as they do on the computer. Before you give your teen his or her first phone, talk to him or her about the dangers present on the internet and through texting and calling. Make sure your teen understands that not everyone is their friend, and to always err on the side of caution.