Protecting your child from cyber bullying is not as easy as it seems. Even if you try to restrict computer use altogether, children will always find a way to circumvent the rules. Not only that, the internet is actually viewed as a learning tool nowadays, stopping you from completely banning the item in your child’s life.
So how can you protect and prevent cyber bullying of your kids? Following are some tips on how to do this without going overboard.
The first thing to do would be educating you and your family about cyber bullying. What would constitute cyber bullying and how would the victim feel during the event?
Online bullying usually involves sending hurtful messages over the internet, whether through public or private means. Hence, a bully may choose to send derogatory messages through Facebook messaging or post it directly on your wall. It could also involve posting hurtful images meant to humiliate the victim. Disclosure of private information, deliberate spreading of information that the victim doesn’t want known, or even impersonating the other person through the internet may also be classified as online bullying.
Explain Preventive Measures
Once your child understands exactly what cyber bullying entails, the next step is to tell them exactly how to react should this happen to them. Basic responses usually involve ignoring or blocking a person. Teaching your child about the importance of passwords and privacy is also crucial. Kids should be aware that their passwords should never be shared with anyone or written down since it can be used by others. Having back-up methods to retrieve or change passwords it also a must.
Be a Friend/Follower
There’s really no need for parents to get their children’s social media password – but you can be their Facebook/Twitter friend or follower. By doing so, you can at least be aware of what your child is posting and the people s/he is talking to. Now, not all kids may be OK with this, but try to explain to them the necessity of you being there to keep them protected. As a parent however, it might be best not to nitpick about what your child posts or at the very least, do it in person instead of replying/messaging online. This way, your child wouldn’t have to be overly conscious about what they do. Note that an overly conscious child becomes more secretive.
Teach Privacy Limitations
Cyber bullies can be creative, utilizing whatever information they can find online to do what they want. This is why it’s usually up to the child to make sure that there’s a limit to what they post. Nude selfies, bikinis, and barely-there outfits should never be posted online. In fact, they should never be taken at all. Teach your child how vulnerable digital information can be in the digital age. Even keeping private pictures in your mobile can be dangerous, hence the need to not take anything at all or be very careful of deleting information. Teach them how the internet is forever, making it crucial to think about things before posting or making comments.
Be Wary of Age Limits
Age limits are there for a reason so enforce them with your kids. For example, Facebook should only be used by 13-year olds and above so if your child isn’t yet 13, it’s best to discourage them from Facebook. You’ll find that most social media websites have this kind of restriction.
Work with the School
In most cases, cyber bullying starts with school bullying. If this is the case, it’s usually best to work with the school when the harassment reaches a certain point. With the school working as a mediator, you’ll be able to talk with the bully’s parents, allowing you to achieve a better way of stopping the problem completely.
Talk to Your Child
Having a constantly open line of communication is always a plus. Make a habit of talking with your kid about what’ going on in school, updates on their friends, and what they plan to do during the weekends. Open communication between you and your child increases the likelihood of him talking about any cyber bullying issues. This also lets you observe your child and find out if something is wrong simply through his actions. An aware and understanding parent makes it easier for children to talk about any problems they might have.
Remember, there’s a law against cyber bullying now so if things go from bad to worse, don’t be afraid to make things official! Do this by making sure that every bullying attempt is saved, screen captured, and stored in a safe place just in case you might need to whip them out in the future. Having strong evidence to support your case goes a long way in ensuring that the bullies are stopped and punished legally. If you feel like there’s a physical risk to your child, don’t hesitate and get the police involved immediately!
There are currently programs specially designed to help with cyber bullying problems. Some of them allow normal control over the child’s internet use while others are a bit more private. One of the best tools you can use is time limiting software. This basically shuts down the computer or blocks the internet after the child has consumed a specific number of hours within a day/week. You can also use blocking software which effectively stops a child from visiting specific websites. If you want to allow them the freedom to browse, you can install monitoring software which tells you exactly what internet sites they’re visiting. Today, there are also browsers specially made out to kids.
Cyber bullying is a growing concern in today’s modern world, but it shouldn’t leave parents floundering for ways to protect their children. Just keep in mind that a well-rounded child is more able to cope with cyber bullying than those not properly exposed and initiated in life. Although most parents don’t like to think about it, you should also consider the possibility that your child is the bully. In cases like this, using the above techniques and being candid with your explanations will also help.