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What Are the Real-Life Effects of Cyberbullying?

What Are the Real-Life Effects of Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is a serious and growing trend that extends beyond hurtful words on a screen. According to research, “11% of high school students have been victims of cyberbullying with 4% reported acting as cyberbullies, and 7% had been both a cyberbullied and a victim of cyberbullying.” The consequences reveal themselves in the victims’ behavior, emotional state, and overall mental health. 

What Is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying refers to using electronic communication to bully, often sending abusive messages or images about someone. Cyberbullying transpires via digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. 

Many people think cyberbullying is simply making fun of someone online and that it’s not as severe as face-to-face bullying. This is not true. Some experts say cyberbullying is worse than face-to-face bullying because it never ends. Some examples of cyberbullying:

  • Harassment: Sending offensive, vulgar, or threatening messages or images. This includes making lewd comments that target someone. 
  • Recording: Some forms of cyberbullying utilize mobile phones to video record fights, bullying behavior, and other criminal activities. These videos are widely shared online.
  • Flaming: Flaming involves fighting others online using electronic messages with angry or vulgar words.
  • Denigration: Denigration involves persecuting others online via gossip, rumors, or false statements.
  • Impersonation: Impersonation involves adopting another’s identity to post material that ruins the person’s persona, gets them in trouble, danger, or damages their reputation.
  • Doxxing and trickery: Doxxing refers to revealing private information about a person without their permission. 
  • Exclusion: Exclusion involves intentionally excluding someone from an online group.

The Difference Between Cyberbullying and Bullying

Since cyberbullying happens online, victims cannot escape their bullies. Here are some ways that cyberbullying is different from traditional bullying:

  • Anonymity: Bullies may use different devices or usernames to access social media platforms so others cannot trace them. As a result of this anonymity, bullies often feel emboldened to say things to their victims that they wouldn’t know in person because they don’t have to face the consequences of their actions.
  • Reach: The Internet makes it possible to reach a much bigger audience more quickly than face-to-face bullying. Thus, bullies can post a rumor on social media and watch it viral. 
  • Permanence: The Internet is permanent. Even if you delete a post or an account, traces of the information may remain somewhere, especially in others’ hands. Some teens may feel their mistakes will follow them for life.
  • No escape: Victims can’t get away from the harassment. It goes with them wherever they go because the victim’s cell phone is always with them.

The Warning Signs of CyberBullying

Many parents aren’t aware of the severe and sometimes lasting effects. There are a variety of signs and symptoms that could indicate your child is being cyberbullied:

  • Watch for a sudden change in mood or behavior when they’re on the computer or cell phone
  • Check for physical changes like weight loss, low energy levels, headaches, stomach issues, and other physical reactions to anxiety and stress
  • Look for changes to their sleep patterns like difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping more than usual
  • Withdrawing from activities that once made them happy
  • Expect poor academic performance. Depressed individuals tend to miss more school and perform poorly on tests
  • They may choose to stop using their electronics to avoid harassment

How to Help Cyberbullied Teens

Depending on how your teen is being bullied, you may need to help them with the following steps:

  • Block the bully. If someone is harassing your child through social media, texts, or other digital means, help them block the bully.
  • Report the bullying. Depending on how it’s happening and who’s involved, you may need to report cyberbullying to an online service provider or school officials. If your child’s school isn’t helpful, contact your local police department or district attorney’s office immediately.
  • Save the evidence. You must work with your teen to save proof of cyberbullying. This may be necessary if you decide to take legal action against a school or an individual.
  • Educate yourself about social media. Most teens spend plenty of time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media sites. 
  • Monitor your child’s computer usage. The best way to protect your teen from cyberbullying is through adequate supervision, which includes setting ground rules for internet use and monitoring their computers and cell phones for evidence of potential problems. 
  • Don’t engage with the bully or bullies. Do not reply to any messages or posts from the bully or his friends. If you respond, you become part of the problem.
  • Talk to your teen about online bullying. Explain that once something has been posted online, it is there forever, even if taken down from the site. 
  • Consider professional help. If they need further assistance to process the trauma of bullying, seek counseling or a treatment program for the teen’s mental health. 

Cyberbullying can have detrimental consequences on the lives of teenagers. Teens often lack the coping mechanisms necessary to handle such trauma. They may suffer from clinical depression, PTSD, and SUD. If your teen has experienced cyberbullying, we recommend seeking help right away to prevent the lasting effects of trauma. By helping your child find a healthy way to cope with their situation, you can drastically improve their chances for long-term recovery. At Clearfork Academy, we know how to help teens. Our mission is to advance adolescent emotional, mental, and behavioral health for all teens suffering from SUD and any underlying issues like trauma and bullying. We provide non-judgmental services tailored to each teen’s needs. More importantly, we believe that these capabilities are essential to helping adolescents lead meaningful and productive lives. For more information about our treatment program, call us today at (888) 966-8604.

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Navigating Mental Health Content in the World of Social Media

Navigating Mental Health Content in the World of Social Media

As humans, our need for connection is necessary to thrive in life and feel a sense of self-worth. While social media offers this sense of connection, there are some negative aspects to the content you consume. If not handled appropriately, mental health content can be among the most misleading and damaging content. Since mental health is becoming more discussed on social media, it is important to control what content you read.

Positive Effects of Social Media

When used the right way, social media offers many benefits. Some positives of social media include:

  • Staying Connected: Social media allows you to keep in contact and communicate with friends, family, and people from around the world. Connection is an integral part of everyday living. Apps like Instagram allow you to share pictures of your favorite moments in life and share them with your loved ones.
  • Providing a Creative Outlet: Many people use social apps as a creative outlet. Artists such as painters, writers, and musicians can post their work, generate a following, and develop a career.
  • Networking: In today’s society, networking is a big part of growing a community and meeting new people. Social media allows you to connect and meet potential business partners from across the world. If you struggle with social anxiety, this is a great way to meet people without the anxiousness that could come from meeting in person.

Negative Effects of Social Media

Social media also has many negative aspects. The negatives of social media include:

  • Cyberbullying: People tend to feel bolder online because they do not need to worry about physical interaction. However, this can lead to cyberbullying, which consists of people leaving rude, unwanted, and opinionated comments on your posts. Cyberbullying can affect your mental health and perpetuate disorders such as depression, anxiety, and body dysmorphia.
  • Social Media Addiction: Studies have found that some individuals can develop an addiction to social media. While not considered an actual disorder or diagnosis, it is a form of behavioral addiction. Social media addiction is the uncontrollable urge to commit more time to social media than interacting in person.
  • Feelings of Inadequacy or Self-absorption: Social media has become about sharing selfies, posting body transformations, and personal achievements. While there is nothing wrong with posting this kind of content, overindulgence is a form of self-absorption. It could make you feel inadequate because you believe you don’t measure up to these standards or get as many likes on your selfies as others. It can also worsen symptoms of disorders such as depression or body dysmorphia.

Filter Who You Follow

One of the best ways to control your online experience is to regulate who you follow. Make sure you are following accounts posting accurate and positive mental health content. There are blogs and accounts dedicated to spreading mental health awareness that post information about disorders and ways to cope. You can also follow organizations or people who are advocates and share personal stories.

Follow Credible Sources

Social media is also a host for misinformation and stereotypes about mental health. Here are a few credible sources to follow on social media instead:

Report Harmful Posts

Misinformation about mental health creates stigmas and influences people toward taking the wrong steps to get help. However, most apps give you the option to report such harmful or disturbing posts. If you come across content that speaks about mental health in a degrading or damaging way, take the time to report the post. Reporting posts not only helps you manage your social media algorithm but helps prevent the spread of harmful posts for others to consume.

Reporting harmful posts will also allow the app to establish boundaries and standards for its users. While you cannot eradicate all negative posts, taking time to report such posts will help cultivate a positive community.

Take Some Time Off

Social media can become addicting, and you may find yourself spending hours upon hours using social media. It is not healthy to consume a large amount of information from other people’s lives daily.

Taking time to step away from social media is great for your mental health. However, you might struggle to unplug from social media. If you have difficulty getting away from social media, try to set specific hours that you cannot engage in social media throughout the day. Having a set schedule will help you stay focused and accountable. You might use this time to read, draw, journal or have physical interactions with friends and family.

Social media is one of today’s most influential platforms for teens, which may lead your child to try unhealthy coping strategies such as substance use. Clearfork Academy can help. Our treatment programs include highly trained and certified staff members that offer a compassionate approach. Located on an inviting and charming ranch, we provide a home away from home for teens in need of substance use and mental illness treatment. Whether your teen is going through our inpatient or outpatient programs, our sole focus will be on recovery and creating a healthy and drug-free lifestyle for your teen. While we do not exclude smartphones, we do provide a space free of social media to allow teens to get in touch with their innermost passions, whether it be art, music, acting, or writing. If your teen needs a safe and professional treatment program, contact Clearfork Academy today by calling us at (888) 966-8604