Cyberbullying risks for children rise during pandemic

Published: Mar. 24, 2021 at 2:45 PM EDT
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(CNN) – From virtual learning to social media, children and teens are surrounded by technology, especially during the pandemic – and it’s not always a good thing.

“There’s no escape from cyberbullying because it follows you home, because your technology follows you home,” said Angie Boy, the program manager at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Stephanie V. Blank Center for Safe and Healthy Children.

Boy said cyberbullying is using any electronic means to intimidate, harass, threaten or demean a person.

“Children have higher levels of anxiety, higher levels of depression as a result of dealing with cyberbullying, which can then have an impact on their behaviors as they continue to age,” Boy said.

There are cyberbullying signs to spot.

Your child may not be using their device as much, or stop going to the same apps.

They may try to hide the screen when an adult is around, or avoid social situations with certain friend groups.

“Those are red flags that you want to follow up on with your child,” Boy said.

Boy advised parents to set technology rules, such as how long and when children are allowed to be online.

“Have open conversations with your child,” Boy said. “You want to know where they’re going online. Who are they talking to? What apps are they using? You want to have their usernames and passwords and make sure that you’re checking in on them pretty routinely.”

Parents are also advised to stay up to date on the latest technology, how to use it and what apps are available so they know what their children are using.

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