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Signs your child may be dealing with a cyber bully — and what to do about it

Cyber-bullying can impact children as young as eight years old and into the teen years.

Some examples of this type of bullying include mean or threatening messages that are sent to a targeted individual by email, text or on social media. It can also take the form of anonymous online posting and sharing of embarrassing pictures or video without permission.

“Up to 30 percent of students may be cyber-bullied,” says Dr. Carolyn Boulos, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Sunnybrook.

Here are some signs that may indicate a child is being cyber-bullied:


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Signs your child may be dealing with a cyber bully:

  • Skipping school and regular activities
  • Sadness, easily upset and irritable, possible self harm or suicidal thoughts
  • Withdrawal, social isolation, staying in their room
  • Trouble sleeping, excessive tiredness

Things a parent can do to help:

  • Keep listening. Encourage healthy communication skills.
  • Make time for regular check-ins. Ask, “How can I help?”
  • Don’t be rash. Don’t criticize. Non-judgemental conversations are key.
  • Be present: Sometimes going for a walk or sitting quietly can be the support a child needs.

Information provided by Dr. Carolyn Boulos, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Sunnybrook

“When parents talk about internet safety even before children start using a computer, it can help educate the child about what they can do if they ever face bullying online,” says Dr. Boulos.

Here are some tips for dealing with a cyber bully:

  • Don’t respond
  • Don’t retaliate
  • Save the evidence
  • Block the bully
  • Always think before posting: nothing posted online is private
  • Encourage reporting of cyber-bullying e.g. school boards have anti-bullying policies

Learn more about how parents and grandparents can navigate social media »

About the author

Jennifer Palisoc

Jennifer Palisoc is a Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.

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