The emotional effects of cyberbullying on children
Bullying of any form can have a devastating impact on a person’s wellbeing. These days cyberbullying is rising. Cyberbullying is a form of bullying using electronic means like social media. It can range from sending intimidating or threatening messages to constant trolls.
Bullying of any form can cause significant emotional and psychological distress. Our work as brain training experts can attest that minors who experience cyberbullying are more prone to anxiety, fear, depression and low self-esteem. They may also experience physical symptoms, and struggle academically.
How your child may feel if cyberbullied
Your child might experience a wide range of emotions if they’re the target of cyberbullying. Here are some common emotional responses that cyberbullied teens or tweens may experience.
Feeling overwhelmed: One of the most common responses is feeling overwhelmed. It can feel like the entire world is against them. The stress and emotions are usually more than what they can handle, especially if they are unable to share their distress with parents or teachers.
Feeling helpless: Helpless feeling arises when events in your life are uncontrollable. For a child facing cyberbullying on a roughly daily basis, it’s extremely stressful. They’re likely to feel powerless and give in to bullying without even trying to defend or seek help.
Trauma: Constant hurtful acts or comments can have a serious emotional impact. From everyday stress, it can start to develop into trauma. The child may show extreme signs of fear, and escape behaviors. It can also cause night terrors, repeated crying spells, and frequent illness.
Social isolation: Children might withdraw themselves socially. Constant fear and embarrassment take over and they tend to isolate themselves completely. As much as social connection is important to fight the negative feelings, kids find it difficult to even trust their peers.
If you notice a change in your child’s mood and behavior, do not hesitate to reach out. Childhood is a crucial period where we develop our sense of the world. Effects of bullying continue long into adulthood and drive countless children into depression or self-harm.
Here are the immediate steps you can take to help your child deal with cyberbullying:
- When you start to notice something wrong, create a safe space for your child to share his problems, and have open discussions.
- Ask them to take a break from the computer or social media.
- If you can identify the bully, try talking with the parents.
- Consider discussing the matter with school authorities. If bullying is happening online, it might be happening offline, too.
- Empower them to take positive actions — like reporting a bully, flagging a cruel online comment, or not forwarding a humiliating photo.
Cyberbullying takes a more subtle form but has a severe impact on your child’s wellbeing. When a cyberbullying incident is observed, work with your child. UNICEF provides some helpful ways to tackle online bullying and help your child feel safe.
In some cases, they may need extra support to overcome negative feelings and regain their confidence. Help them seek the necessary help. Contact our brain training experts at Evolve Brain Training who provide non-invasive depression treatment in Dubai. Book your consultation and learn how you can train your brain through neurofeedback to be more resilient. Fill out the form and our team will connect with you shortly.
Dr. Upasana Gala is the founder and CEO of Evolve Brain Training, a Neurofeedback centered institute that focuses on using non-invasive brain training techniques to maximize the brain's true potential.