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Skipper L Harvey, PsyD
May 17, 2014

What Is Cyberbullying?

If you’re reading this article you already know that being a parent is one of the most challenging and, at the same time, most rewarding jobs in the world. Parenting is by nature an undertaking that requires continuous involvement, constant decision making, and can often leave you feeling like you’re on a roller coaster ride at the nearest theme park. Combine this with the fact that you are frequently competing for your child’s attention with environmental factors such as technology and the online community, also known as social media. Not recognizing the impact of these two factors on your child’s life can be a critical oversight with devastating consequences, particularly as your child approaches adolescence. Because of this, it is extremely important for you to understand, be aware of, and monitor the influence of technology on your child’s life. This medium of information and communication can have a big impact on daily functioning, development, and the long-term outcome of who your child will be when they reach adulthood.

The American Academy of Pediatrics calls cyberbullying the “most common online risk for all teens.” As defined by, cyberbullying encompasses the following:

• Bullying that takes place using electronic technology such as a cell phone, computer, and/or tablets

• Bullying that occurs through the use of communication tools such as social media sites, text messages, and/or websites

o Rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites
o Embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles
o Mean text messages or email

• Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day/7 days a week

• Cyberbullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and circulated quickly to a widespread audience making it difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the source

What Are the Signs of Cyberbullying?

Below are signs that may indicate a child is a victim of cyberbullying, provided by the National Crime Prevention Council:

• Is anxious or overly stressed out
• Shows signs of depression
• Is extremely moody or agitated

• Suddenly stops using the computer
• No longer wants to participate in activities once enjoyed
• Hurts self, threatens or attempts suicide

• Suddenly starts skipping school
• Loses interest in school
• Drop in grades

Kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to:

• Use alcohol and drugs
• Skip school
• Experience in-person bullying
• Be unwilling to attend school
• Have poor academic performance
• Have lower self-esteem
• Be at an increased risk for suicide

Keep Your Child Safe

Because of their overwhelming desire to be social, kids often overlook the fact that the information they post on their social pages, or other’s pages, can make them vulnerable to cyberbullying and Internet predators. Following are a few tips for safe internet usage:

• Encourage your child to confide in you if they have an interaction with someone that makes them feel anxious, uncomfortable, or threatened
• Create a list of rules for Internet usage that have been discussed with your child
• Create and have your child sign a technology use contract that clearly outlines rules for usage and the consequence for broken rules
• Consistently monitor your child’s cell phone and online activities
• Ensure that your child has a clear understanding of what constitutes responsible and ethical online behavior and make sure you are modeling that behavior as an adult
• Keep all computers that have Internet access in an open area of the home

For more information on cyberbullying including dangerous websites, states laws and legislation, and sample Internet and cell phone usage contracts, please click on the Amazon logo in the image immediately below.


About Dr. Skipper
Dr. Skipper is a Florida Licensed Clinical Psychologist who works extensively with children, adolescents, and families to provide therapy and psychoeducational assessment services.

She received her doctorate degree from the Florida School of Professional Psychology.  Dr. Skipper has worked with children, adolescents, and families in a variety of settings which include mental health clinics, residential settings, drug treatment facilities, and schools.

Through the integration of a variety of empirically-based treatment approaches, Dr. Skipper assists her clients by providing new skills and empowering strategies to build distress tolerance, enhance awareness and communication, facilitate insight, and challenge maladaptive relationship and thinking patterns. She employs an active therapeutic stance to facilitate long-lasting, positive change. 

Dr. Skipper’s background also includes a B.A. in Elementary Education with 11 years of experience in primary education. 

Disclaimer: The above information is not intended to provide professional advice or diagnostic service. If you have any concerns about Cyberbullying or other health issues, please consult a qualified health care professional in your community.