September is Suicide Awareness Month. In an effort to raise awareness about mental health, LUOA will cover the topic of mental health throughout the month of September.
*Content Warning: Suicide and Cyberbullying*
LUOA would like to introduce you to our Associate Director of Student Relations, Nick Mustakas. He agreed to answer a few questions about cyberbullying and mental health.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is defined as any type of bullying that takes place over electronic communication. Much like traditional bullying, cyberbullying is where an individual intimidates another individual and seeks to hurt them through word, action, or a combination of both. The unique nature of cyberbullying is that it can be public or private. Examples of cyberbullying include hurtful comments in response to social media posts, private messages on the various social media platforms or inappropriate texts or emails to name a few.
Which platform do we see the most of cyberbullying?
Unfortunately, due to the increased use of electronic devices and electronic communication, cyberbullying is prevalent everywhere on all kinds of platforms.
What are the effects of cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is designed to create hurt and pain in an individual. It seeks to make a person feel unworthy, unvalued, and even embarrassed to be who they are. It can lead to isolation, depression, and unfortunately even worse.
What signs should parents look for?
Cyberbullying shouldn’t lead us as parents to be against social media or other forms of electronic communication. The technologies of today can be used in such powerful ways not only personally but for us to further the Kingdom Mission God has set forth for us. That being said, much like everything – where there is good, there can also be trouble. Our role as parents is not to create an, “us against technology”, culture in our homes. This will create an unhealthy understanding of technology amongst our children and often in these situations an unhealthy consumption of it when given access. I encourage parents to approach this in a way they build trust amongst you and your children. Start by having a conversation. Even come up with a family technology agreement and explain the purpose is to protect them and help them to use this for good. In addition, I encourage parents to have access to their children’s social media accounts, inboxes, and cell phones. There are some great apps that help you do this too. Also, I would encourage there to be a time you collect phones and laptops, so students aren’t alone in their rooms with electronic devices.
If your child seems to disengage or shows signs of hiding their phone, that is the time to start looking a little deeper. But if you are doing the above, you should be able to catch it early on and help them overcome what they are experiencing.
What are the harms of cyberbullying?
Unfortunately, cyberbullying can lead to devastating results. It leads to children feel valueless and it can lead to depression and unfortunately, even suicide. It is suffocating and because it is often done in private, children don’t feel like they can reach out for help.
How should parents have the conversation of the harms of cyberbullying with their children?
Regularly! The dinner table is a great time to make these conversations a normal part of your conversation.
If a student thinks they are being bullied on the internet, how should they handle it?
First, they need to connect with their parent and share everything. Then depending on what is the source, the parent can help student’s follow-up with trusted sources. Sometimes the best thing to do is to shut it down completely by deleting that account.
What is LUOA’s policy on cyberbullying?
LUOA is passionate about building meaningful community amongst students. With that commitment, we do not tolerate cyberbullying of any kind. We encourage students to never share personal information including social media accounts, gaming platform accounts and personal email addresses. If a student feels they are a victim of it or witness it, they should immediately contact our Student Relations Team at OnlineAcademyEvents@liberty.edu.
How does LUOA monitor for cyberbullying?
All team members are committed to our policy on it and are constantly monitoring our various platforms as well as student interactions.
What resources does LUOA have for students to heal from cyberbullying?
Our Student Relations Team would be glad to connect with any student and their parent and help them chart a path of healing through our resources and their local community.
LUOA can be considered a hybrid of homeschooling and online private school for grades K-12 and Dual Enrollment. You will experience the full support that you will see at a private school, such as accreditation, teacher support, record-keeping, and more, all while experiencing the flexibility of homeschooling. Please click here to learn more about what LUOA has to offer your family. Or go ahead and take the next step in your child’s education journey and enroll today!