How to Protect Your Child from Cyber Bullying
Now that summer is over and your kids are getting heading back to school, it is important you educate yourself on a new type of bullying many students face: cyber bullying. You may also want to learn the actions you can take to prevent your child from falling victim to cyber bullies.
Most teenagers these days use social media to keep up with friends, play games, share photos, meet new people and socialize.
[su_column size=”3/4″]Approximately 85 percent of parents with children between the ages of 13 and 17 know their child has at least one social media account, according to Internet Safety 101.[/su_column]
The scary part is that in one recent year, one million children were allegedly harassed, threatened or cyber-bullied on one single social networking site. In addition, 43 percent of teens ages 13 to 17 reported experiencing cyber bullying within the past 12 months.
[su_column size=”5/6″]No matter how worried you may be about cyber bullying, parents cannot rely on their teens to tell them about all instances of cyber bullying.[/su_column]
[su_column size=”3/4″]Only one in six parents know their child has been bullied on a social media or networking site.[/su_column]
Fortunately, despite the majority of teens having witnessed, contributed to or experienced cyber bullying at some point, most teens report coming to the defense of victims.
What Is Cyber Bullying?
[su_column size=”5/6″]So, what is cyber bullying? Stopbullying.gov describes cyber bullying as, “bullying that takes place using electronic technology.” Sending personal, yet embarrassing or risqué photos to others for whom they were not intended, spreading vicious rumors in emails or social media posts, being intentionally rude or mean in text messages, and creating fake profiles with libelous statements designed to ruin a person’s reputation are examples of cyber bullying.[/su_column]
Cell phones, desktop computers, or laptops and tablets can be used for cyber bullying. Cyber bullying can also be done via text message, social media chat features and other social networking sites. If your child has access to any electronic device, he or she could fall victim to cyber bullies.
Unlike other types of bullying, which generally require face-to-face confrontation, cyber bullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A kid can be cyber bullied while in his or her own home.
[su_column size=”5/6″]Worse yet, in many instances, the victim of cyber bullying may not even know the identity of his or her cyber bully or be able to undo the damage done.[/su_column]
How to Keep Your Kids Safe
[su_column size=”5/6″]Reducing the chances of your kids being victimized by cyber bullies starts with establishing rules about appropriate behavior and use of electronic devices. Restricting access to certain social media and internet sites is also key to minimizing the risk of cyber bullying.[/su_column]
These two actions along with the following can help keep your kids safe:
- Talk to your kids about cyber bullying and its dangers
- Remind your kids to treat others the way they would want to be treated
- Teach your kids to think about what they are planning to post, before posting it, as once it is online it is out of their control
- Find out the websites your kids are visiting
- Review your kids online activities and communications regularly
- Consider installing monitoring or parental control software on your kids’ devices
- Require your kids be open about their internet activities and give you password access, which you agree to only use in an emergency
- Either “friend” and “follow” your kids on networking sites or find another person you trust to do so
- Encourage openness with your kids, and make it safe for them to let you know if they or one of their friends is being cyber bullied
- Find out if your child’s school has policies on cyber bullying and ways for kids to report when they or others are being bullied.
Parents who are actively involved in their children’s lives, and are able to talk to their kids openly about cyber bullying and other online dangers, will be more equipped to protect their children and assist them if they do encounter cyber bullies.