Cyberbullying affects real lifes!
In this day and age, kids are exposed to all sorts of messages from different channels and it becomes vital to know what potential threats your child might face and how to keep your child safe.
Communication with peers is not just limited to talking in school. New technology like social networking sites and instant messaging apps are also avenues through which they can receive communication from classmates, friends, relatives, and even bullies.
- In a 2011 study by Harris Interactive Trends & Tudes, 43 percent of teens aged 13 to 17 have admitted to experiencing some sort of cyberbullying.
- Cyberbullying is much easier ignored and overlooked online. In a survey conducted by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 81 percent of the surveyed youth agreed that cyberbullying is easier to get away with than bullying in person.
Cyberbullying and its long-term effects on children
Mean tweets or comments on social media and messaging systems have long and lasting effects on kids, starting with feelings of anxiety, loneliness, depression and lack of sleep, eventually affecting social life, family life, and even their studies. These have lingering effects that can extend to adulthood.
Furthermore, a Yale University review of 37 studies from 13 countries reveals that victims of bullying are twice to nine times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims. This statistic is from five of the reports, while most found correlations between bullying and suicidal thoughts among kids.
Role of parents and child safety tips
It is important for parents to proactively know if their child is being cyberbullied. Being equipped with the knowledge to prevent it from happening, as well as making it stop as it happens, are crucial in making sure your children have a safe online environment.
Here are some child safety tips to stop cyberbullying in its tracks:
- Discuss online etiquette and set ground rules with your child
Before allowing your child access to online networks or messaging apps, educate him/her on what should and should not be done online. These rules will help prevent cases of cyberbullying, or any other act of aggression or violence:
- Do not post anything online that you wouldn’t want your friends, classmates, or any other person to see, not even via email. Treat the online space as a public space. Don’t do online what you would normally not do in school or at the park.
- Talk and respond the same way online as you would in person. Always be respectful and polite.
- Don’t send messages or post status updates when you’re angry or upset.
- Discourage your friends from saying hurtful things on social media.
- Block any communication with known cyberbullies. Delete their messages without reading them.
- Talk to your parents about anything untoward within your social networks, including messages or posts from friends that make you feel uncomfortable.
- Explain how cyberbullying works
Let your child know it’s not “normal” to receive mean or threatening messages online, whether from a friend, a classmate, or a complete stranger. Inform your child that if he/she receives any message of this kind, he/she should not respond and instead show the message to a parent or teacher.
In the same way, let your child know that he/she can help prevent cyberbullying of others by showing the same message to a responsible adult. As a parent, your role in preventing cyberbullying does not end with your child.
- Consider the use of parental control software
For an upgraded level of protection, parental control software like Familoop Safeguard are available to monitor your child’s online activity, detect cyberbullying signals, and provide actionable insights.Keep your child safe from being cyberbullied
Familoop Safeguard helps parents become aware not just of communication happening between their children and other children, but also of certain keywords that the child may be looking up on search engines. Suspicious search keywords like “depression” or “suicide” are flagged and the parent is immediately alerted. Familoop Safeguard is perfect to make sure your child is safe and to kick-start a conversation with your child when needed.
What to do when your child falls victim to cyberbullying
If your child comes to you and tells you he/she is being cyberbullied, explain to your child that retaliating will only make matters worse. Instead, do the following:
- Save or screenshot all texts or messages as evidence.
- Change your child’s privacy settings.
- Contact law enforcement if threats to your child’s safety or well-being have been made.
And here are things not to do:
- Don’t ignore the problem and leave the child to deal with it alone, thinking that it’s a “child thing” everyone experiences.
- Avoid blaming your child for what’s happening. Talk to your child about the situation and together find an appropriate response, whether it’s directly talking to the parents of the other child, or to a teacher or an authoritative figure in school.
- Do not respond by taking away access to computers and mobile phones. A child will see this as another attack on him/herself, making him/her feel like the cyberbullying was his/her fault and he/she is being punished for it. Instead, make sure you monitor his/her activities online more closely.
More cyberbullying and Internet safety tips for parents become available over Internet every day. Check out experts’ blogs from time to time, stay tuned for new child safety tips and know what more you can do to keep your children safe.
Final word on keeping your child safe from cyberbullying
Cyberbullying prevention is a team effort between parent and child. It’s crucial for children to be educated on cyberbullying and how to best respond to it if it happens to them or their friends.
Just as equally important is for parents to build an environment of trust with their children, so that the latter feel comfortable sharing their activities with them, letting them know of cyberbullying threats before they spiral out of control.
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