Social Media Bullying – What Do I Do If My Child is Being Bullied on Social Media?
Social media is here to stay and unfortunately that means social media bullying is also a threat, so you better get savvy about monitoring your child on their social channels.
I wish more than anything that I didn’t have to write this post. I make my living off social media and I love it for many reasons. I use it mostly for social good to help build messaging on line for brands like World Vision Canada, and patient groups seeking help, or raising awareness, for issues like infertility, adoption, child poverty. I love what I do and it is the best of several worlds for me – passion, advocacy, and writing.
My kids are now teens and tweens and they are also on social media. I monitor that as much as humanly possible, because I know there are as many pornographic images and sites as there are good legitimate twitter accounts seeking to have a conversation. I block pornographic followers so they don’t impact client accounts every week, if not more often. But this week something almost slipped by that shouldn’t ever happen, or slip by.
So What Happened?
Week Two of Grade Nine
On Monday I picked my daughter up from school. She was late coming out so I texted her and she called me back from inside obviously upset. “Mom, something’s happened.” I asked if she wanted me to come in and she told me she did. I found her in the principal’s office crying.
Social Media Bullying and Instagram
Someone had set up a fake, private, Instagram account in her name. They dropped one letter on the name (we already have the actual legitimate account with her real name spelled correctly.)
Oddly my older daughter has never really liked social media. She doesn’t see much use for it and would rather be writing, drawing or acting, or just doing something she likes to do. Truthfully, social media has always sort of scared her a bit. She got the facts from her school resource officer back in grade six and seven and eight and she remembered well the lessons about on line bullying and did not want to risk any of that. So she had Instagram with three pictures. She very rarely used it.
Odd Comments and Looks in the Hallway
Over the course of her school day that Monday, kids approached my daughter to ask if she commented on their pictures. “Did you leave a comment on my picture?” She shook it off the first couple of times and then the third or fourth time someone in the hall asked: “Did you call me a fu^&ing Fat A(^&! on Instagram?” “I would never,” was the response. Then someone showed her the account and what the fake Payton was saying. Something about “Go Die,” was on another person’s picture.
Anyone who ever met my daughter knows she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. She was beside herself. Grade nine at a new school. Not enough close friends to know her well enough to tell if she was that messed up that she’d leave mean hurtful comments like that.
She went straight to the principal she trusts at the high school.
“What if the police think it’s me?” she asked me.
I gave her lots of hugs and reminders it was not her fault this happened and that it reflected poorly only on the other person doing this. She cried a lot and I watched her closely that night. Very quickly she reacted – saying she wanted to quit social media entirely. But together we also decided to tackle it and find out who had done this.
Nine Things You Should Do When Social Media Bullying Happens:
Tell a Trusted Adult
(My daughter went straight to the principal.) Other options are vice principal, teacher, guidance counsellor, school resource officer. Tell someone. If you keep it to yourself it will not go away. It will likely get bigger.
Tell Your Parents.
If you are a parent, check on your kid’s sites. Ask for their passwords and periodically review their friends. I have done this with my kids, and I have asked youngest daughter to remove friends I do not know. If I don’t know that 13-year-old boy that’s talking to her on Instagram then I don’t have any reason to believe he IS a 13-year-old boy. Recently we went three rounds over this one. But she removed the person.)
Not tech-y? No problem. If you don’t know what I mean by that, then it can be as simple as taking your camera and shooting a picture of the screen. Keep the evidence. If you have some basic tech knowledge a screenshot is when you press Command and shift and 3 at same time on a Macbook and take a picture of what is happening.
Shut the conversation down.
Block the person. Report the person as well. Don’t respond. But get the pictures and links first. So take the screenshots I mentioned above.
This goes for any type of bullying. Document who came up to you first and then who said what and so on and so forth. Write it all down. If anything ever escalates then you need the proof.
Call the police or the school resource officer.
They might be able to give you some input. In this case, although we had an initial poor conversation with an officer, we then the next day had a really informative conversation with police public relations after I complained and he helped define for me when and if I can press charges legally.
My daughter saw me getting ready to mention this on Facebook and she asked me not to. I have huge respect for how she handled much of this awful experience…but I told her No. I told her this is how you find bullies. I trust my Mom friends on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and twitter. They are smart and kind and really they know a lot of stuff.
So I posted about this happening. I got about 100 comments on what to do. Multiple people told me to go to police. Multiple police contacts on twitter offered to help and Erica Ehm of Yummy Mummy Club advised me to email Paul Davis of Social Networking Safety and he provided concrete help and then gave me a phone call to help me located some facts about this type of bullying and about where the account originated. By the way he also does school workshops. All of that was exceptionally helpful. I am now calling them my MOM Army of Awesomeness.
Contact the social media site
(Facebook, Twitter, Instagram ) and let them know about the Social Media Bullying. We contacted Instagram. My daughter reported the fake site as an impersonator. You can only flag it as an impersonating site if you are the person being impersonated. You can also flag it and report it as the guardian. But if you do that you need to prove you are the guardian. I did that.
Tell all your friends also to report the account.
Have everyone dig in and report the event any way they can. Jump on and flag it as abusive or whatever works. The more people that flag it the more likely the account will come down.
Don’t remain silent!
Has your child ever been bullied on social media?
I hate this! I really hope you get this resolved. I am sure it won’t be easy. Love that you daughter has very little interest in social media. I’ve talked to my girls about social media and have already discussed with them that they will not be getting into SM until they are adults.
It’s challenging alright. All the other kids are on it. So there’s that too. Even if your child isn’t on the social channel there are others who much set up a fake account trying to be mean. So these days I am walking around looking over our backs metaphorically on social media.
Robin (Masshole Mommy)
My kids are only 8 & 11, so they are obviously much too young to be on social media, but I will keep these in mind for when they are in a few years,
It is such a shame this even happens. My son is 19 and doesn’t go on social media at all. He said if he wants to talk to his friend he will call or text them.
Heather D. (@GirlGoneMom)
There are so many new avenues for kids now. It’s so sad.
i can’t imagine growing up in an age where social media is so rife, the internet was just getting big when I was a teen the days of MySpace, but it wasn’t everywhere as it is now. x
I can’t believe someone would set up a fake account just to do that! That’s horrible. This really good advice!
It is really awful. I agree. It seems too calculating.
Lois Alter Mark
It’s great that you’re raising awareness about this issue. It must be so scary for kids to be bullied this way.
It great that you keep track on about this issue. It is a worst feeling for every parent if their child have been bullied on social media. Thanks for the advice.
I can’t stand bullying at all and social media is so easy for people to bully others.
I just don’t understand why some get their jollies off this kind of behavior. I am glad to know there are resources out there, should my girls ever become a victim. Hugs to your daughter. I hope she feels better about the whole situation soon!
I don’t understand it either. I think girls who bully are sad little people. Hopefully they learn and stop this crappy malicious behaviour.
None of my kiddos have been bullied on social media but they are still young. I’ve been educating them and discussing it with them for a while now, but will be a super overprotective monitor when they come on social media.
Peady @ Tempered With Kindness
First of all, I am extremely sorry that this happened.
Secondly, I am so proud of you for being so proactive. Amazing what an Army of Moms in the know can do, isn’t it?
This is a great post and I have shared and will continue to share it because it bears repeating.
Thankfully, my kids haven’t been bullied online, but we, here in Nova Scotia, have had some pretty horrific, high profile, cases of cyberbullying and so I am acutely aware.
Thank you for writing this.
You know I have been bullied on social media and I felt lost. Talking about it and getting support helped big time. My oldest daughter grew up when social media was still new. She too dealt with bullying. It was horrible . THese are great tips
Thanks Kim. Yes that’s a good point. Even adults get bullied on social media.
It is terrible there is so much bulling today. Social media makes it so much easier for kids to be bullies. I will have to share these tips with my friends with little ones.
Thanks Ann! And thanks for listening when I was venting this week. It was a stressful week for sure.
Mama to 5 BLessings
Those are great tips. I think being their advocate and educating them is definitely key!
It is important to document everything. It makes it look serious too, which it is (serious).
I agree, Social media bullying is a big threat which we all must be aware of & I think proper guidance on how to deal with it will help the kids come out of any such abuses. These are some great tips to note so we could make sure to do our best to protect our kids.
I like that you said to screenshot everything. I am sure documenting the said bullying would go a long way.