Today, bullying doesn’t just go on in the playground. It happens on mobiles, by email, in chatrooms etc. and can happen 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. O2, in association with NSPCC (UK charity that fights for children), explains the phenomenon and what to do about it.

“The signs can be hard to spot. Your child may become withdrawn, become stressed when receiving an email or text, start eating and sleeping erratically and not want to go to school.

What makes it harder is if they are too scared to speak out. Cyberbullying is hard for a child to deal with because it can feel like there’s nowhere to hide.

The most common forms of cyberbullying are sent via:

  • Text
    This can mean abusive or threatening text messages.
  • Social networks
    Posting or messaging cruel comments on sites like Facebook. Some bullies will set up fake profiles in order to do this.
  • Email and instant messaging
    Nasty emails and messages, sometimes sent individually or as part of a wider-group chat.
  • Images
    Publishing or sharing photos, videos or webcam chat without permission – specifically in ways that could damage your child’s reputation and self-confidence.
  • Chatrooms
    Saying mean and offensive things about people in public chatrooms.
  • Gaming
    Purposefully blocking, ignoring or excluding a child from multi-player games.

What to do if your child is being bullied

Regular conversation is essential. Your child needs to know that this behavior is unacceptable and that there’s plenty that can be done to stop it.

Encourage them to find activities that build self-esteem and confidence, like sport, dance or music. And don’t ban them from using the internet or their mobile – it probably won’t help with the issue and is more likely to discourage them from talking openly to you about any problems.

Talk to your child’s school or club. Discuss the issues and determine what action they intend to take – then arrange to meet again for a thorough update. If you’re not happy with the outcome, arrange to speak to the head teacher or organiser.

If you’re on O2, offensive messages or calls can be reported to us. Just call 222 from the mobile it occurred on.

If you think your child is being cyber bullied:

  • Advise your child to log off when it happens – it’s best to walk away.
  • Block bullies – remove them from your child’s friends or followers list.
  • Tell your child to ignore them, refrain from reading the messages and to never reply.
  • Let your child know you are always there for him or her. If they feel too embarrassed or scared to talk, you could suggest they call Childline’s anti-bullying advice service on 0800 1111.
  • Keep the evidence. You might need to show it to your child’s school or club if the bullying continues. But be sure to never forward or download any child sexual images – it’s illegal.
  • Talk to your children about appropriate online behaviour. Teach them that if you wouldn’t say something in real life you just don’t say it online.”

See the full post here.