Between texting, social media, and online gaming, many children spend more time engaging online than they do interacting in person. As technology continues to revolutionize the way we communicate, it also presents new areas of concern.
Even though it may not take place in person, the emotional and psychological effects of cyberbullying are just as destructive as physical and verbal bullying, according to Jennifer N. Caudle, DO, an AOA board-certified family physician from Philadelphia.
Since digital communications are harder to track and monitor, parents should take preventive measures to minimize the effects of cyberbullying on their children.
How Bullying Affects Kids
"Kids who are bullied are likely to experience anxiety, depression, loneliness, unhappiness, and poor sleep,” explains Dr. Caudle. 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.
Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, look beyond your symptoms to understand how lifestyle and environmental factors affect your wellbeing. They listen and partner with you to help you get healthy and stay well.
Connecting With Kids Online
According to Dr. Caudle, parents should be actively involved in all facets of their child's life, including their online communications. “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.
Creating Safe Spaces
Dr. Caudle advises that, 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.