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Preventing Your Teen From Becoming a Cyberbully

New study: Supportive parents curb online bullying and 3 ways you can help.

Source: digitalskillet1/Bigstock
Source: digitalskillet1/Bigstock

Online hate has been going on for a long time; however, since March, many people have been spending more time in the digital world while living a quarantined life, and students are engaging in online learning—leaving more doors open for the ugly side of social media.

More than 50 percent of teens have experienced some form of cyberbullying, while 41 percent of adults say they have been subjected to harassing behavior online.

The pandemic has people of all ages stressed, frustrated, and many are at their wit's end!

Some parents have lost their jobs and are struggling to find employment. Others are trying to juggle their career at the same time as trying to be a teacher to their kids, who are now learning at home. Some parents are concerned about sick family members—while all of us are trying to figure out this new abnormal.

Supportive parents curb cyberbullying

According to a new study by NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, cyberbullying is less common among children and teens that have loving and supportive parents.

There's no such thing as perfect parenting, but especially during times of crisis, we, as parents, need to find ways to overcome these challenges. Many of us are going through anxious times for one reason or another.

Laura Grunin, the lead author of this study, said the findings point to the importance of emotional support from parents during this pandemic.

"I would stress to parents it is not necessarily if they think they are being supportive, but what their adolescent thinks," Grunin explained. "Parents should strive to discern their teen's perception of parental emotional support as it might be associated with youth cyberbullying behavior."

Grunin also noted that while the study doesn’t prove that a lack of parental support directly causes cyberbullying, it does suggest that children’s relationships with their parents might influence their bullying behaviors.

Building new bonds

There is nothing normal about today's world. Whether it's wearing a mask or social distancing, we are all living a new abnormal.

It's a perfect opportunity to create new family time and do your best to be consistent.

3 ways to become more supportive of your child:

1. Be interested and involved.

Start noticing the little things. Become curious, not noisy—but interested. Get involved in their hobbies. Find the time to be supportive of things that interest them.

2. Stream a series together.

Find a good series (family-friendly) that you all agree on, and get engaged! This is not only about watching it together, but the conversations that will linger over breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Depending on age-appropriate tropes, a good suspense series keeps you all coming back—with anticipation.

3. Prioritize meal time.

This never gets old. Kids that have at least one daily meal together as a family are less likely to engage in risky behavior.

All of these seem so simple. They are. However, it's your time with your child that matters. It's about being there—being present. Like Laura Grunin says, it's not about what you think might be loving or supportive (such as buying a pair of sneakers)—but what your adolescent thinks.


PEW Research: Teens, Social Media and Technology

PEW Research: Online Harassment

NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing

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