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Cyberbullying can be hard to detect. Online posts, especially the ones that teenagers use to harm and distress others, may be fleeting and tough to find. Often victims of bullying feel unable to speak out about the cruel treatment they receive online. In a world of fast, varied and ubiquitous digital communication, many young people suffer from cyberbullies, and their parents or guardians know nothing about it.
"Parents and guardians can take a more active stance in protecting their children and teenagers from cyberbullying."
This difficulty of detection - coupled with the serious harm caused by online abuse - is why it's important to be on the lookout for signs of cyberbullying. Through a combination of old-fashioned diligence and cutting-edge monitoring tools, parents and guardians can take a more active role in preventing their children from falling victim to cyberbullying.
Signs to Watch For
Paying attention to a few key signs can indicate when something is wrong:
1. Missing or skipping school
Online bullying impacts real-world actions. Excessive excuses for leaving or missing class could signal trouble with classmates. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, 5.4 million students will skip school this year because of bullying. More than half a million skip "many times" for the same reason.
2. Sudden changes in behavior
According to the National Crime Prevention Council, victims of cyberbullying may show new behavioral patterns, including changing their sleep schedules or refusing to eat. Switching friend groups suddenly or dropping out of previously loved activities may also be a sign of trouble. When kids don't want to go online, it may also be due to bullying trouble. In extreme cases, victims of cyberbullying may hurt themselves physically, threaten others or even attempt suicide.
3. Loss of belongings or increased need for money
Kids who are being bullied may be facing theft, extortion or blackmail from their bullies. Kids who steal or ask for money may be handing the cash over to a bully. Furthermore, if belongings become lost or broken at an abnormal rate, that too may be a sign of a bully at work.
4. Emotional withdrawal
A campaign of bullying against a child or teen can cause emotional changes in the victim. Moodiness, anxiousness, stress and aggression are all potential tip-offs. If a previously outgoing young person withdraws and becomes shy, that could be the result of cyberbullying. People who have been hurt also sometimes go on to hurt others. Increased aggression is another possible sign of victimization, with kids lashing out at their peers or family because of the toll that bullying has taken.
Monitoring Online Communications
With help from the latest artificial intelligence technology, early detection of cyberbullying is possible. A recent partnership between Identity Guard, the Megan Meier Foundation and IBM Watson has given parents and guardians a new way to stay aware of their kids' online activities without disrupting their privacy. Identity Guard with Watson uses natural language processing and classifiers to scan online communications for potential signs of trouble, only sending alerts to parents when the system finds worrying content.
Get Identity Guard with Watson today and put its advanced technology to work watching over your family online.