As parents, we like to tell ourselves that kids are resilient—that they’ll bounce back quickly when things go wrong. It’s our way of reassuring ourselves that though we can’t protect our kids from every threat to their emotional and psychological health, that at least the damage won’t be permanent when these threats prevail. While it may be true that kids are resilient in many situations, instances of cyberbullying (and any other form of bullying) are exceptions to the rule.
Occasional and Frequent Bullying Do Long-Term Harm
In a comprehensive, longitudinal study on the long-term effects of bullying, a recent study found that victims were at an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems for decades after being ridiculed. It is important to note that even those kids who reported being bullied only “occasionally” had similar struggles when compared to peers who said they were “frequently” victimized.
Poor Relationships and Finances Linked to Bullying Episodes
We know that when our mental health suffers, nearly everything else does as well. Thus, it’s no coincidence that participants of the study who reported being bullied as kids also reported lower life satisfaction as adults as well as lower levels of education and less meaningful relationships with partners and friends. Unfortunately, many victims of childhood bullying go on to lead lives of isolation and loneliness.
Parental Involvement Matters!
Researchers also found that, not surprisingly, kids whose parents were less involved in their lives inside and outside of school were more likely to report being bullied by their peers. There is a positive flip side to the coin, though. When parents are directly and consistently involved in their children’s lives, kids become confident, self-aware, and capable, traits which greatly reduces their likelihood of becoming the target of schoolyard or online bullying.
Cyberbullying Worse than Traditional Playground Bullying?
Bullying is not a new phenomenon, but in recent years, social media networks and messaging apps have given bullies a new channel for harassment. In many ways, this new form of bullying, often referred to as cyberbullying, can be even more harmful than its traditional predecessor. Experts have found that bullies who are afforded anonymity tend to be bolder and more aggressive than schoolyard bullies. Plus, kids who are victimized today have a harder time “turning off” the hurtful comments as social media is always a click away.
As with most things, prevention is the best remedy for the negative mental health issues that can arise as a result of kids being bullied. Parents who are proactive, monitor their children’s social media communications, and talk to their kids regularly about their online and offline peers have a better chance of protecting their kids from the emotional wounds of bullying. If your child is victimized, be ready to respond quickly in order to mitigate any long-term damage to your kid’s mental and emotional wellbeing. Download Qustodio’s free software to begin managing, monitoring, and understanding your kids’ online media consumption today. For more information on digital parenting and online safety, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Study: Bullied Kids at Risk for Mental Health Problems 40 Years Later http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/04/study-bullied-kids-at-risk-for-mental-health-problems-40-years-later/361055/