Effects of Cyberbullying

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Between cell phones, social media Web sites, and online gaming, children today seem to have more outlets for interacting with each other virtually than they do for interacting with each other in person. However, with all of the good social interaction that is done as a result of these technologies also comes the bad. In addition to the physical and verbal bullying that may take place at school, cyber-bullying in the form of harassing text messages and derogatory posts on children’s Facebook pages is now commonplace. Even though it may not take place in person, the emotional and psychological effects of cyber-bullying are just as destructive. Since new media and cell phones are harder to track and monitor, parents need to take preventive measures that can help minimize the effects of cyber-bullying on their children.

“Kids that are bullied are likely to experience anxiety, depression, loneliness, unhappiness, and poor sleep,” explains Jennifer N. Caudle, DO, an AOA board-certified family physician and director of Family Medicine at Sinai Hospital, Internal Medicine Division, in Baltimore. Making the issue worse is the fact that such negative effects of bullying often go unnoticed, as many victims feel the need to conceal the fact that they are being bullied because they are embarrassed or afraid of further bullying. More often than not victims respond passively to bullying. They tend to act anxious and appear less confident. They may become quieter in class and, as a result, the bullying can become a hindrance on their academic success. Therefore, bullying is a problem that, if left unattended, can become a significant hurdle in a child’s development.

Yet while the victim might be passive, it is imperative that the parent is not. According to Dr. Caudle, in order to prevent cyber-bullying, parents must be actively involved in their children’s cyber lives. “Communication with one’s children is the key to bully prevention,” says Dr. Caudle. So send them a...
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