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It may not take place in person, but the emotional and psychological effects of online bullying are just as harmful as physical and verbal attacks on the playground.
Between texting, social media, and online gaming, many children spend more time engaging online than they do interacting in person. While technology continues to revolutionize the way we communicate, it also opens children to taunting from classmates outside of the confines of the playground.
Since digital communications are harder to track and monitor, parents should take preventive measures to minimize the effects of online bullying on their children.
Even though it may not take place in person, the emotional and psychological effects of online bullying are just as destructive as physical and verbal bullying.
“Kids who are bullied are likely to experience anxiety, depression, loneliness, unhappiness, and poor sleep,” explains Jennifer Caudle, DO, an AOA board-certified family physician from Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, many victims conceal the fact they are being bullied due to embarrassment or fear. More often than not, victims respond passively to bullying. They tend to act anxious and appear less confident.
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Being actively involved in all facets of their child’s life, including their online communications, can help parents stay in tune with situations that might be a cause of stress for their child.
“Understanding what’s going on with your child is the key to the prevention of bullying,” says Dr. Caudle. Parents who are proactively involved with their children’s interactions online are subsequently able to monitor these interactions more closely, she adds.
In addition to interacting more with their children, parents should also take preventive measures by creating safe spaces for their kids.
“The home should be a safe place where open discussion is not only allowed, but encouraged,” says Dr. Caudle.
Dr. Caudle also notes that one must not forget about the bullies themselves. Often, bullying is a cry for help and can usually be traced to a time when the bully was victimized. Creating a safe environment where a child can feel comfortable talking about being bullied can help put a stop to bullying before it ever starts.