Many young adults have access to a wide range of technological devices that keep them connected to friends and family members. Unfortunately, this has also increased the risk of a new kind of harassment called “cyberbullying.” Cyberbullying is when a person uses technology to humiliate, degrade, or threaten someone. While it is unethical and possibly illegal, many bullies get away with it simply because parents of young adults don’t always know about cyberbullying warning signs that they should look for:
Suddenly Avoiding Phones and Computers
One of the first cyberbullying warning signs to look for is a young adult suddenly avoiding their phone or computer when they would normally spend a significant amount of time with the devices. Because bullying is traumatic for the victim, it is common for a person to associate their device with the emotional pain that they feel. They may also avoid their devices due to fear of another hateful message or embarrassing picture waiting for them.
Changes in Mood
The symptoms of cyberbullying may also include changes in mood. For example, a young adult or teen who is normally very happy and eager to go to school or out with their friends may suddenly become withdrawn and depressed. Parents may notice that they talk less often, cry easily, or lash out at others. Parents may also notice an increase in their child’s anxiety, or other noticeable changes in overall mood, sleep, appetite, and behavior.
Cyberbullying may include humiliating pictures being posted for other people to see or even threats against victims or family members and friends. The cyberbully may also tell the young adult that they will be physically harmed if they report the abuse to the police or their parents. This can cause severe depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues that make the child feel that there is no way out of the situation. Parents can often tell that a young adult is struggling with suicidal ideation by listening for comments that indicate hopelessness, decreased desire to plan for the future, or statements that everyone would be better off without them. The young adult might also start researching methods of suicide on the internet.
Physical Changes and Responses
Parents of children who are being cyberbullied may also notice that their child has started to display signs of physical aversion whenever they hear the sound of a text message or an e-mail. For example, at the dinner table, the young adult may announce that they are no longer hungry because their stomach hurts. If they can’t leave, they might begin to tremble or fidget. A parent may also see evidence of self harm, such as cuts, scratches, or burns.
Unexplained Bruises and Wounds
Many cyberbullies continue their aggression whenever they see their victim in person. This can entail physical assaults that leave injuries such as black eyes, bruises, and cuts. The child may be too afraid to report the abuse. Parents may also notice other cyberbullying warning signs, such as the young adult beginning to ask for rides to school so that they don\’t have to walk there alone.
Cyberbullying, just like all forms of bullying, is damaging, traumatic, and can trigger young adult mental health issues. If you are in need of resources or support, The Mental Health Collective, located in Orange County, California, is here to help. Please call 888.717.9355 or click the button below.