The amount of homeschoolers in the USA is 3% of all school-aged children, and 91% of the students had parents who felt they had reason to be concerned about the school environment. Contributing to these beliefs is cyberbullying. It can be more insidious than traditional bullying, as it is far more invisible. Even worse, cyberbullying can occur anywhere, at school and at home. According to McAfee, in 2014 87% of students said they’d witnessed cyberbullying, with 34% experiencing cyberbullying for themselves.
This type of bullying can be isolating for a number of reasons. The shame of an embarrassing secret being shared, or photographs being sent to others, can make you feel isolated. This feeling of isolation from friends and family can lead to multiple mental health problems for teenagers. These can include feelings of depression and hopelessness; of anxiety; the desire to self-harm or commit suicide. As the feeling of isolation grows, self-esteem plummets. It becomes a vicious cycle.
It will take time to heal from cyberbullying, and to recover from the resultant isolation, but you can do it.
One of the hardest things about being bullied into isolation is reaching out again. Sometimes this can even involve using websites that you have been cyberbullied on before. It’s important to be brave and not let the bullies win. Websites like Facebook and Twitter can provide a good social outlet that can be used to reintegrate with society. This can be possible by connecting with groups of people who enjoy a common interest or hobby, and interacting with them.
For example, a Facebook group might have been created about your favorite television show. Joining this group would allow you to talk with others, without the pressure of having to think of something, as the common interest of the TV show is there. Also, if you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, it is easy to step away for a moment until you feel better, without an awkward conversation.
Twitter may be an even better place to interact with people. It would be possible to “live-tweet” as you watched the TV show, and by using a hashtag, you would be able to see others’ tweets about the show. This could have the positive effect of adding some social interaction into the lives of those feeling isolated by cyberbullying.
However, it is important to take steps to keep control of your privacy. Taking responsibility for your own well-being will allow you to start healing. Keep all your accounts private, and only let those you approve of follow you, or become your friend.
It Gets Better
It does get better, trust me. Meanwhile, there are things that you can do to improve your mood. Exercise will help, as it releases endorphins into the blood stream. These will bring your mood up. In addition, there is medication that you’d be able to take as long as your doctor prescribes it. Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication can be very effective in turning your mood around and allowing you to start living your life again.
Besides exercise and medication, it’s a good idea to start growing a support network around yourself. Seek out real human companionship so you don’t have to be alone. This usually consists of family and friends, but you may wish to talk to a counselor or therapist. Talking about how we feel often results in us feeling a lot better about our situations.
Keep in mind that as we grow older, we learn to cope with things better. Independence also comes with growing up. Then you can do what you like. So if you’re not feeling comfortable somewhere, perhaps you can think about moving, or at the very least making some changes that will let you thrive. Just be patient, take one day at a time, get support, have a goal to strive for, and look to the future.
Do you have any advice to share about overcoming cyberbullying? Please leave a comment below.