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Is your child being bullied through their mobile phone?

For all the brilliant things smartphones can do, there are some risks that go along with owning one. Cyberbullying for instance. No parent wants their child to be a victim of bullying, whether it’s in the real world or online, but with more and more children now owning a smartphone or tablet, this is a growing concern. A report by Childwise in 2020 found that most children now own a phone by the age of seven, so this is something that can affect even primary-aged youngsters, not just teens.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to spotting whether your child might be the victim of bullying through their mobile phone, and what you can do about it if they are.

Here at Gadget Cover we can provide mobile phone insurance for the whole family. So if another family member has an accident with your smartphone, we’ve got it covered. Policies can protect against things like liquid damage and theft, so get a quick quote today.

What is cyberbullying?

If your child is being bullied through their mobile phone then they are a victim of cyberbullying – even if they’re not aware of it. Cyber bullying can be particularly harmful and difficult to detect because:

  • It can occur at any time, even in the apparent safety of their own home.
  • It can be difficult to know who is doing the bullying. Bullying can involve a very large group of individuals and can rapidly get larger if messages or images continue to be shared. This means it’s sometimes hard or even impossible to trace who is responsible.
  • It can be unintentional. A bully may not have thought about the impact their online messages or actions have on the targeted child. Indeed, the bully and the victim may not even realise the behaviour is bullying.

According to the latest Office for National Statistics research, in the year ending March 2020 around one in five children aged 10 to 15 years in England and Wales experienced at least one type of online bullying behaviour. This is equivalent to 764,000 children.

What are the different methods of cyberbullying?

Your child can be bullied through their mobile phone in a whole host of ways. Just some of the most common examples include:

  • Spreading malicious and abusive rumours
    Sending fake, damaging or untrue information about a child to other members of a group, particularly through instant message services.
  • Harassment
    Sending offensive, rude and insulting messages via text, call or social media to a child. Or repeatedly posting humiliating comments in chat rooms, blogs and forums about the child. This can often happen on gaming sites.
  • Online stalking
    Sending repeated threats or intimidating messages to make a child feel afraid for their safety. Just as with many of these examples this is illegal and is a matter for the police.
  • Posting embarrassing or humiliating images
    Sharing photos of a child for the purpose of ridicule or spreading false gossip. Some bullies even alter and distribute photos of others for the purpose of bullying.
  • Posting private details
    Someone may share your child’s personal information or trick them into revealing secrets that they then forward to others. This can also happen with private images or videos obtained through webcams or video messaging.
  • Blackmail and grooming
    Where a new online ‘friend’ pressures someone into making inappropriate images of themselves.
  • Trolling or flaming
    Someone may be deliberately offensive or extreme in their views to cause a reaction and enjoy the distress this causes to your child.
  • Impersonation
    A bully may hack your child’s email or social networking account and deliberately post unpleasant material about other people. They may also create fake accounts to pretend to be your child.
  • Exclusion
    Where others intentionally leave someone out of a group such as group messages, online apps, gaming sites and other online engagement.

There have been cases where a child’s mobile phone has been stolen and used to post fake and bullying material. If this happens to your child then having mobile phone insurance in place means they’ll be protected against theft.

How to spot cyberbullying

Any child can be bullied through their mobile phone no matter what their age or background. Being bullied online can leave anyone feeling distressed and alone. Many children feel overwhelmed by the bullying and unable to tell an adult. They might even feel ashamed and worry that if they disclose the bullying they’ll be told to close their social media account or have their phone use restricted.

Unfortunately, with mobile technology so essential, cyberbullying can become a real source of stress and worry. It can even develop into a relentless cycle which tragically has resulted in child suicide and self-harm in some cases.

If you suspect that your child is being bullied through their mobile phone here are some signs to look out for:

  • A drop in self-esteem.
  • Withdrawal from friends and family. Spending a lot more time alone.
  • Reluctance to let family anywhere near their mobile phone or their online activity.
  • Being upset after using the internet or their mobile device.
  • Finding excuses to stay away from school.
  • Losing contact with friends or being excluded from social events.
  • Losing weight or changing appearance.
  • Problems with sleeping.
  • Marks of self-harm or dressing to hide any marks.
  • Changes in personality.

How to support your child if they’re being bullied through their mobile phone

If you think your child is a victim of cyberbullying, then the most important thing is to be there to listen to them. Seeking help from you or another trusted adult is the right thing to do so make sure you’re sympathetic. The government’s website suggests some important points to remember, including:

  • Some victims believe they have done something wrong to deserve the bullying. Reassure them that no one should be bullied and they are not to blame.
  • Even if they don’t want to talk to you, there are still places they can get help and support such as Childline and Childnet International.
  • Encourage them to talk to a trusted teacher so they feel they have someone to speak to if there’s a problem at school.
  • Other family members such as older siblings can also be a great source of help and advice for them.
  • If possible, keep a record of the cyberbullying as proof of what is happening.
  • Suggest they only use a moderated chat room.
  • Tell them to never respond to any abusive messages or calls.
  • Any bullying on social media needs to be reported to the relevant companies.
  • Encourage them to keep a private diary where they can write down how they’re feeling.
  • Praise them for being so brave and speaking out. Talking to someone else is the first step to dealing with bullying.
  • Harassment, online stalking and posting inappropriate images of a child are all serious matters and should be reported to the authorities.
  • Encourage them to report abuse to their school, Internet service provider, the website manager/moderator, the mobile phone company or the police.

Reporting bullying on social media

Children are increasingly using their phones to access social networking sites, go online and use messaging apps. From nasty profile comments to abusive direct messages, many children have been bullied while using these services. Bullying and abusive behaviours, such as harassment and identity theft, are all banned by these services and should be reported.

When you want to make a complaint to a company about being bullied online, it’s a good idea to copy the terms and conditions which have been breached and take a screenshot of the comment or photo in question as evidence. This may often be enough for these sites to investigate and take the appropriate action.

Facebook

Facebook has a set of community standards all users should follow. The following are not tolerated:

  • Pages identifying and shaming private individuals.
  • Images altered to degrade or shame private individuals.
  • Images or videos of physical bullying posted in order to shame the victim.
  • Sharing personal information to blackmail or harass people.
  • Repeatedly targeting people with unwanted friend requests or messages.

Report bullying on Facebook using the links which appear near the content itself. There’s normally a drop-down menu that lets you report the image, comment or post.

Also check out Facebook’s Bullying Prevention Hub, which has good advice for parents, children and teachers about seeking support for issues related to cyberbullying.

Twitter

Twitter takes cyberbullying and online abuse seriously and recommends if you receive a tweet or reply that you don't like, you should unfollow that person. If the behaviour continues, the next step is to block the user. The final step is to report it to Twitter directly.

YouTube

Bullying can be reported via YouTube and action taken as part of their harassment and cyberbullying policy. To flag an inappropriate or threatening video, simply click Report on the video player menu and select a reason. YouTube will then take a look at it to see whether it breaks their terms of use. If it does, then they will remove it.

But sometimes it might not be the video itself that is bullying. If the bullying is taking place in the comments, there are also tools to flag that for investigation.

Instagram

From negative comments and fake profiles to hacking of accounts, bullies can use Instagram in plenty of ways. However, Instagram takes all of these violations of its community standards very seriously and there are plenty of tips on the site to help.

Start off by blocking and unfollowing the accounts who are being abusive to your child. If the bullying behaviour continues, you can use Instagram’s in-app reporting tool to deal with the problem.

Snapchat

Bullying can happen on Snapchat just as anywhere else and needs to be dealt with seriously. Whether embarrassing screenshots, sending pictureswithout permission, negative comments and more, if this happens then start off by blocking the bully.

Snapchat has instructions on removing and blocking friends. Even if you haven’t added the user as a friend, their name will still appear in the ‘My Friends’ list under ‘Recent’ if they have sent you a message recently.

The National Bullying Helpline has further details on how to report cyberbullying to social media platforms.

Responsible and safe social media use is an important part of many young people’s lives. However, when you’re out posting something to Insta or Snapchat it’s all too easy to get distracted and have an accident. Mobile phone insurance will protect your precious phone from all manner of mishaps.

From a cracked screen to liquid damage, the gadget can be repaired or even replaced if you have the right mobile phone insurance in place.

Keeping your child safe on the Internet

Staying safe on the Internet is a big part of growing up for the next generation of tech-savvy mobile phone users. Childnet International has a range of resources offering plenty of practical tips and advice on keeping your child safe online.

It’s also important to talk to them about what they can do to keep safe and how to make sure that they don’t bully someone else, even if unintentionally. It’s vital for them to learn to always think twice before posting anything online. Because once it’s out there, you can’t take it back!

Stay safe with mobile phone insurance with Gadget Cover

Keeping your child safe is a full-time job. But rest assured Gadget Cover’s team of insurance specialists will always be there to help take the pressure off by finding you the best mobile phone insurance policy for the right price.

Policies arranged through Gadget Cover can include protection for your devices from accidental damage, liquid damage, theft, breakdown and unauthorised usage. For an extra premium, loss can also be covered.

If you’re taking your phone abroad, cover is also automatically extended to include use of your phone anywhere in the world, up to 180 days in any one year.

We can also extend cover to your immediate family in case they lose or damage your phone.

Call Gadget Cover today and get a quick quote for mobile phone insurance.

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