This week, schools in Lancashire, and across the country, are taking part in Anti-Bullying Awareness Week, which runs from November 15-19 and aims to raise awareness of bullying in children and young people and highlight ways of preventing and responding to it.
A recent report found nearly one in five (19%) children aged 10-15 in the UK experience cyberbullying, equating to approximately 764,000 children, so Envirofone has collaborated with Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari, a child development expert, psychologist, family therapist, and founder of an online parenting community, The Village, to help parents navigate online bullying.
Denise Timmis, brand manager at Envirofone, a company which recycles people's old mobile phones, said: “The way children communicate is increasingly more in the online world, their online presence has increased due to factors such as school work and education merging with the online world from the pandemic, adding to their screen times and increasing the chances of cyberbullying instances.
"Parents need to communicate effectively with their children about bullying. It’s also important to explore your options in terms of the types of parental controls that you would be comfortable using that will help take more control over cyberbullying risks.”
According to Enivrofone and Dr Kalanit Ben-Aris, in the short term, online trolling can harm a child's sense of safety, joy, and trust in others, and can cause them sleeplessness, anxiety, or to withdraw from social interactions and be closed off in their bedroom, affecting their self-esteem, mental health, and even body confidence.
They add that if a child has a strong connection with their family, they can reach out to an adult for appropriate support and guidance, however without educational or emotional support systems, the long-term consequences of being bullied worsen, such as chronic depression, substance abuse, self-halm, and suicidal thoughts/attempts.
Being able to detect and put an end to online bullying as soon as possible is vital for children's safety, and you can see Enivrofone and Dr Kalanit Ben-Aris's tips on how to spot if your child is being bullied online and how to approach the situation below:
How to spot the signs your child is being bullied online
-Regression in your child's behaviour: this could include anxiety, withdrawal from friends and family, closing themselves off in their bedroom, feeling upset and expressing sadness without a clear reason as to why.
-They stop taking part in activities: many victims of online and offline bullying no longer participate in activities they used to enjoy and no longer seeing people that they used to. Look out for an obsession with being online, checking messages all the time, and feeling stressed or anxious if they are not able to do so constantly.
-Isolation: your child may appear to be isolating themselves within the home, expressing anger, or showing an unexpected decline in their schoolwork. The signs can vary from one child to the next, but if there is very little joy in their life, or they are trying to avoid school or their usual social life this can be a clear indicator of an issue such as online trolling.
How to approach your child if you think they are a victim of online trolling
-Initiate a safe conversation while you are busy doing another activity, such as walking or driving, so your child doesn't need to maintain eye contact. Safe conversations mean speaking without judgment or strong emotions as this can lead them to close up even more. The message that you want to portray is that your child will not regret sharing their struggle with you so parents should avoid blaming or shaming, allowing space for their child to talk about what is going on for them and explore together what can be done to resolve the situation.
-Get the school involved: reporting bullying incidents to the child’s school is essential for the bullying to be taken seriously. There is also a need, between parents and schools, to educate children about online safety.
-Show them privacy settings: it is important to educate them about privacy settings on social media, and about not engaging with people they do not know directly and in person.
Ways to monitor your children’s online activity
From restricting screen time, blocking apps in certain areas and filtering what content kids can see, security apps permit parents to customize the apps to their family, and there are many to chose from, some free and some at a subscription cost:
1. Netnanny: one of the longest running monitoring providers and is the #1-Rated Internet Filter.
2. KasperSky: multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus provider.
3. Circle Home Plus: can monitor devices at the router level on your home network or via an app on your child's mobile devices.
4. Questodio: makes parenting easier with daily screen time monitoring, app monitoring, including Facebook and YouTube, app blocking, family locator, family mode, porn blocker and more.
5. Bark: monitors texts, email, YouTube, and 30+ apps and social media platforms for signs of issues like cyberbullying, sexual content, online predators, depression, suicidal ideation, threats of violence.
6. Boomerang: a parental control app for Android and iOS that helps parents track their children's web, app, and mobile activity. It's mobile-only.
7. Family Time: lets you manage screen time and block apps on their phones with just a tap. Kids can reach out to you instantly if they ever get into trouble with instant panic alerts.
8. Google Family Link: can monitor and limit screen time, including checking out how much time your child spends on their favourite apps, thanks to weekly or monthly activity reports.