It would be a proud moment for any parent to know that their child at a very young age is developing apps, creating software and is well versed in new age technology. However, what we need to make them aware of is cyberbullying. What is cyberbullying? When a person uses technology to harass, threaten, embarrass or target another person it is called cyberbullying. According to CRY (Child Rights and You) around 9.2% of 630 adolescents surveyed in Delhi NCR had experienced cyberbullying. What is more alarming is that almost half of them never reported the incident to their teachers, guardians, or the social media companies involved.

Due to the current crisis schools had to hurriedly switch to taking online classes. We cannot stop them from using the internet but we can definitely educate ourselves regarding cyber crimes and how to deal with it. 

Be aware of the early signs that point to your child being at risk. Either one is the culprit or a victim. First and foremost, as parents acknowledge the problem. Do not shrug it off, rather have a heart to heart talk with your child. 

If you feel that your child has started to spend more than usual time over their laptop, mobile phone etc. this could be one of the first signs of being exposed to inappropriate content or to cyberbullying. 

If you happen to scan your child’s computer, chances ar you may come across some files that are not appropriate for his viewing. You can also check his browser history. Although chances are that our tech savvy children would have erased the data but no harm in checking once in a while. 

Another early sign that should ring the alarm bell is change in their behaviour. They may distance themselves from the family. They may face difficulty in sleeping, complain of headaches, nervousness, stomach ache or make excuses to not go to school. This could be because either they are the victim or are bullying someone online. Take them into confidence and encourage them to share so that they can be helped. They have to be told that no one has the right to hurt anyone. 

If your child hurriedly shuts the laptop  as soon as you enter because he does not want you to see his screen could mean that something is wrong. The biggest fear of a child against reporting such incidents is that he may be stopped from having internet access or you may report the matter to the school or parents of the other child involved. 

At times, if you deny a particular online service, the child may use a friend’s account or home or library to access it. Online offenders are always on the lookout for potential victims. They provide the victim with a computer account to communicate with them. It is quite possible that the offender could be someone they met on one of the social networking platforms. One such incident of cyberbullying was also reported recently where the offender and the victim were part of online tuitions they were taking. We are not saying that you spy on your kids but you must be alert to your online web consumption, his social media activities and people they befriend online. 

Source: Ed Tech Review