WHAT CAN PARENTS DO TO PREVENT CYBERBULLYING?
Thanks to growing public awareness (and tragically- the news coverage of school mass shootings), parents and teachers are actively addressing the core problem and also teaching children the best ways to address the problem on their own. Since teens spend an average of 9 hours a day consuming online material, parents need to be at the top of their kids’ online activities to prevent cyberbullying.· Teach Your Child the Rule of Five
- Don’t respond to a bully. A bully is trying to evoke a reaction out of you either directly or through peer pressure harassment. Don’t give them what they want.
- Never share your personal information.
- If you see something say something. This includes the online world as well as the real world. Teaching your child to trust their instincts is a valuable lesson that may also save someone from online cyberbullying.
- If you are the victim of online bullying, copy and paste the message into a printable document and save it for evidence. Show it to an adult immediately.
- If don’t know them in real life, they are a stranger. Period. No exceptions.
· Be Observant of Your Child’s Behavior
Many children who are bullied online or offline do not share details of the bullying with their parents. If you see your child is agitated while using a computer or phone, losing sleep, depressed, anxious, or most importantly avoiding school, it is time to talk to them. Ask him/her open-heartedly and as calmly possible as you can. Feel free to bring in the topic of social issues or mean behavior at school. Make sure you listen to the perspective of your child instead of assuming things.· Have a Cyber Bullying Conversation with your Child
As a parent, you know you should do it from all the bullying advice you’ve seen on the news and read on the web, but have you actually done it? Pick a date and time this week to sit down and have a conversation on cyberbullying with your child. This may help them open up about what they have been going through. Not only does it help them overcome the embarrassment or fear attached to being cyberbullied, it also gives them the confidence to voice the incidents in the future. One reason children do not like to talk about being cyber bullied is that they think it will cause more complications. They fear that they would lose access to the internet or mobile phone if their parents know about the cyberbullying. They also fear retaliation from the classmates that are bullying them.
When you start the cyberbullying conversation with your child, let them know that you understand the importance of computers and phones in life, but you want them to be safe and protected from cyberbullying. Explain to them that if they face something hurtful online, they should share it with you openly. Be available to listen.
· Try to Work Out the Problem with Your Child
Once you know there is a problem; it is the time to work out the solution with your child. Cyberbullying typically involves loss of control or dignity over a situation. And when you and your child work together on the problem, it helps them regain that control. Secondly, working together with your child on the problem also helps parents understand the context of the problem in a better way. Seeing the problem from the child ‘s point of view is fundamental to reaching the core of the situation and finding a solution together.· Seek Additional Perspectives
Your child’s story might be completely sincere, but it is always good to investigate the matter by having a different perspective. You need to be open-minded about what others think or how they see the matter. Sometimes children get themselves pulled into situations they should not be in.
· Set Cyber Rules for Safety
This is one of the most important steps when it comes to cyberbullying. Set some cyber safety rules such as:
- Do not download anything from the internet without your permission.
- Don’t accept friend and follow requests from people you do not actually know in “real life”.
- Set your child’s profile to private and comb through all the security settings to make nothing is available for public view. This not only protects your child from bullying, but a plethora of other potential crimes such as identity theft and even illegal use of their images by sex-traffickers!
- Remind them to be cautious when exchanging information over the internet unless they already know who they are communicating with outside of the cyber-world on a personal level.
- Teaching your child to “pause before posting” is a good cyberbullying prevention exercise. Teach them to ask these 3 questions before posting on social media about another person:
- Do is need to be said?
- Does it need to be said now?
- Does it need to be said by me?
- Teach your children to never open messages from people they do not know.
- Have access to your child’s email and all social media account’s password. Decide when you should use their passwords to keep an eye on account content.
- Explain to your child why you don’t share certain photos, personal info and their current location online. They’ve probably already been told not to do this, but may not understand the personal safety risks that sharing private information creates.
- Periodically check your child’s phone, tablet and laptop to make sure the apps they are using are safe and age appropriate.
- Make sure you and your child are friends on social media or other online apps so you know their activities, online posts, and online friends.
- Set specific hours for using technology such as no texting or computer after 10pm or during meal time.
- Establish a code of conduct about their own online behavior. Tell them it’s absolutely wrong to embarrass or humiliate other people when using online technology.
- If you find out your child is a bully, talk to them firmly, and explain how negatively it can impact others. Explain to them that it’s not a joke, if it hurts someone else at their expense and punish them! Two appropriate punishments suggested by professionals include moving their computer into the kitchen or another public area for use and restricting or grounding them from use of their cell phone or tablet for a period of time.
HOW CAN TECHNOLOGY HELP YOU COMBAT ONLINE BULLYING?
There are several applications to assist parents to prevent cyberbullying through parental controls. We tested several and really liked the features, mobile flexibility and price of Mobicip. It offers the best array of parental control tools to monitor your children’s online activities and includes a GPS tracker. You can block, set time limits, filter YouTube, and receive internet activity reports right on your cell phone by installing this app. In this multi-tech world, it’s important to pick a product that covers multiple devices in its’ plan. These tools are immensely beneficial to monitor what your child does online. You can see their posts, profile details, and can check when there is a new friend in their friend list.
Recent studies have shown that approximately 24% of middle school students and 15 % of high school students face cyber-bullying that takes a heavy toll on their mental health and attributes to depression, anxiety and even suicide rates. Another recent survey has shown that nearly 88% of middle-school students reported seeing other students bullying on social networking sites.
Cyberbullying can have a dreadful effect if it is not addressed quickly. It’s equally important to know if your child is the bully or the one being bullied. Talk to guidance counselors, teachers, and school officials to identify the situation and to manage the problem on the home front and at school.
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