Preventing cyberbullying is a matter of awareness and response: knowing what children are doing and how they are vulnerable, then helping them learn to respond when their well-being is threatened by bullies, trolls, and other dangerous users online.
If a child is expressing anger or anxiety after going online, it might be one of the signs he/she is being cyberbullied.
Cyberbullying is becoming a burning issue both for parents and teachers. While statistics vary from study to study, it’s generally true that children are spending more time than ever ‘online.’ In fact, some students may spend more time online than offline, which means they might be more likely to be bullied through words on a screen than in a school hallway or bathroom.
The effect of cyberbullying are similar to traditional bullying but traditional bullying stops when the school ends; for online bullying there is almost no escape. Unfortunately, many kids torment and harass each other using the internet apps and social media channels.
7 Surprising Cyberbullying Statistics
-> 45% of children admit they have experienced bullying online
-> More than 40% say they have become a bully’s exclusive target
-> 70% admit they have witnessed cyberbullying
-> 50% of children admit to being scared of their online bullies
-> 92% of cyberbullying attacks are held through chatting and commenting on social media websites
-> Cyberbullying victims are 3 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide
-> Only 2 in 10 victims will inform their parents or teachers of online attacks
It’s impossible to prevent cyberbullying altogether, just as it’s impossible to completely prevent in-person bullying. But there are some strategies you can use to reduce the likelihood that it occurs and offers them ways to respond when it does.
9 Ways To Prevent Cyberbullying
1. Establish a climate of communication with your child
Every psychologist will tell you that one of the best ways to help your child or student is by establishing a ‘climate’ of trust and communication.
It’s not enough to be ‘willing’ to talk with a child or ‘hope’ that they’ll come to you if they experience bullying (of any kind). Ideally, there will be communication patterns established where they aren’t just likely to discuss this with you, but see you as a resource and support system.
2. Define it
Give them a formal definition of cyberbullying. Give them examples–examples they might actually experience using the online activities they’re most likely to use.
There are many forms of cyberbullying, from light-hearted by hurtful comments on facebook to passive-aggressive posts on Instagram to trolling on YouTube to cyberstalking everywhere else.
At the very least, be patient and ask a child about the problem in general: what is cyberbullying, does he/she know someone who is being bullied, what children should do if notice acts of bullying. This way you will see how much your child is involved in the situation and which side he/she is on.
3. Give them strategies to respond
And because the bullying is often done in front of friends and peers, make sure the ‘strategy to prevent cyberbullying’ has credibility with their peers–that is, that allows them to ‘save face’ and redirect the attention back to the bully. Ironically, the wrong response could encourage more bullying in the future.
4. Use celebrity card
Modern children aren’t so different than we were: they choose role models and are influenced by them.
Today, those role models are YouTubers and video game streamers and athletes as often as they are athletes, actors, musicians, and other ‘stars.’ And thankfully, many of these ‘role models’ discuss bullying, advocate for victims, and encourage each of us to create new social norms where bullying isn’t just tolerated but is shamed as a behavior.
5. Monitor online activity
Luckily, cyberbullying has one advantage or ‘traditional’ bullying: you can notice it and save the evidence.
If moving offline completely isn’t an option, you can install iPhone and Android phone monitoring apps. These can allow monitoring social media activity (including YouTube, Tik Tok, facebook, snapchat, and Instagram), the viewing of all text messages (even deleted ones), call logs, and general online behavior. You can even block and control the child’s phone remotely.
In short, know what they’re doing it online–when they’re doing it and with whom.
6. Know the apps and platforms
Piggybacking on the above, it’s difficult to prevent cyberbullying if you don’t understand how the apps work and the most likely ways trolls and others can affect your student or child’s well-being. It would be difficult to help students navigate bullying in a physical school if you’d never seen or experienced yourself and the same is true online.
7. Engage parents and youth
Create a community for adults and pupils to send a unified message against cyberbullying. Establish a school safety committee that will control and discuss the problems of online bullying. Just as there are now laws in some states against cyberbullying, teachers and administrators can create policies and rules, including a cyberbullying reporting system.
8. Emphasize positivity
School staff can do a big deal to prevent cyberbullying. As a teacher, you can use staff and parent meetings and even send newsletters. Use your school website to create a page and forum, where parents can discuss the problem. You can also engage bullies and victims by giving them mutual tasks, so they can try to see each other from a different perspective.
9. Remember the big idea
Remember that the ultimate goal is to protect and restore the victim’s self-respect and empower them with a mindset, tools, and strategies to protect themselves online and offline in the future.
Make the most of yourself, for thats all their is of you.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Throughout our school lives, we are continuously told to be nice to others and to stop bullying if we see it happen. However, not all bullying can be seen and sometimes we feel we are incapable of stopping it. Cyberbullying unfortunately continues to occur in ever-growing amounts. Today's society is heavily focused on the renowned smartphone. Smartphones make it so that the internet is accessible anywhere and nearly everywhere; this also means cyberbullying can happen more frequently. It is imperative to work to stop cyberbullying because it can now reach to so many people. In the case of Amanda Todd, cyberbullying took her life. Todd was 16, when she “flashed” an internet stranger on camera, and the whole situation went haywire. A picture was taken and circulated, even a Facebook page created with a picture of topless Amanda Todd as the profile. Todd had attempted suicide once and failed and when that circulated, she was bullied even more relentlessly. Six months later, Amanda Todd was found dead in the apartment she lived in, evidently a suicide. She was not only cyberbullied; she was stalked and physically assaulted at school. Cyberbullying does not just happen on a screen—it can reach out and spread into the non-virtual world. Not only does cyberbullying cause psychological damage to the victim, but it can cause physical damage as well. Amanda Todd was almost 16 years old when she died—she barely lived. Working to stop cyberbullying can save lives and really make a difference to people who feel cornered or trapped. The victims of cyberbullying cannot stand up for themselves, whether that is from fear or from a lack of hope. This is why it is important to work to stop cyberbullying; to give those victims hope and the ability to be who they are and own up for mistakes without fear of being tormented. While social media is a large part of the problem, I do not believe it is part of the solution. As cliché as this may seem, people need to talk to people, especially teenagers. They need to be taking charge and speaking out to kids their own age, so that they know why it is important to work to stop cyberbullying. Working to stop this epidemic can give people the chance to live a full and happy life—to live the life they deserve to have. We can let people know that someone out there does care and does worry for their well-being. One mistake should not define a person and should not consume them. Working to stop cyberbullying can remind a person that they mean something to someone, that they are worth something, that they can do and be anything, and that they are important too.
Bullying is an issue that schools around the country are paying attention to. It ’ s one that is leaving many seats in the classrooms empty each day. In fact, it ’ s estimated that, around the country, roughly 160,000 students stay home each day because they fear bullying. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that schools can do in order to help successfully prevent and address the issue on their campus.
“ Bullying is a common problem, and schools don ’ t want it there anymore than the students do, ” explains Peter J. Goodman, author of the book “ We ’ re All Different But We ’ re All Kitty Cats. ” “ Both can come out ahead if schools place an emphasis on addressing the problem in a variety of ways. ”
Goodman has bundled his popular book with an educational curriculum package that helps children identify and work through their emotions and feelings. The combined tools use cats as characters to help teach children about bullying, and about accepting others even if they have differences. The curriculum, titled “ Bully Free Students Make Bully Free Classrooms, ” focuses on such lessons as what bullying is, as well as feelings and bullying, helping children to identify feelings and how to make the right decisions when they do. It is increasingly becoming a tool that schools use to help prevent and address bullying on campus.
Here are 10 additional things that schools can do to help prevent and address bullying:
- Focus on prevention. When you begin working on bullying as a school-wide issue, place the emphasis more on preventing it so that it is not as big of a problem to begin with.
- Establish a committee. Create a task force at the school to focus on bullying. That committee should include members from staff, teachers, parents, and students. Together, they can work together and have their input considered.
- Create a plan . Within the committee, work together to create a bully-prevention plan for the school. Include what the consequences will be if people are found to be bullying others.
- Start early. It is never too early to start working with children about treating others with kindness, respect, and acceptance. Start at the earliest grade that the school has, leaving no children out of the plan.
- Keep it going. As children work their way through the school, advancing to the next grade, reinforce the bully-prevention message. They need to hear the message every year, as opposed to it being given to them only once.
- Think multiple methods. Children learn in different manners. Some learn by listening, others learn by hands-on projects, and still others learn by watching. Try to incorporate multiple ways to get the bully-prevention message across to students. Include things like books, plays, games, movies, and more.
- Encourage peer advocacy. When students go from being bystanders to being “ upstanders, ” attempts to address bullying will be more successful. Students should be taught to stand up for other students.
- Teach what to do. Even though the focus should mainly be on bullying prevention, students still need to know what to do if it happens to them. Teach them acceptable ways to handle bullying if they do encounter it.
- Work with parents. Parents want a bully-free school as much as teachers, staff, and students do. Nobody wants their child to come home in tears after a day of being bullied. Get the parents involved in the bully prevention effort in order to make it more successful.
- Evaluate and adjust. Once or twice per year, give the students an anonymous survey to fill out, where they can answer questions about bullying on the school campus. This will provide a look at how the students feel about the school atmosphere, and will give staff the chance to see if the bully-free plans need to be re-evaluated.
“ Schools want those children in their seats every day, rather than avoiding school out of fear, ” explains Karen Goldberg, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in working with parents and families. “ When schools make bullying a priority and take real steps to help prevent and address bullying, everyone is better off. It takes some dedication and focus, but a successful program can be created and implemented. ”
Between the rise of connected devices and the ever-expanding Internet of Things, cyber bullying is a much bigger issue now than even a decade ago. Children and teens are spending more time online: 92 percent of kids are now on the Web daily, and nearly a quarter report being logged in “constantly.”
Sometimes, these numbers can add up to some devastating real-world consequences. Not only are these so-called “hyper-networking” teens sharing more personal information on their social media profiles, they also share a 110 percent higher risk of being cyber bullied compared to their peers. In the past year alone, one million children and teens were bullied just on Facebook, and 87 percent reported witnessing or experiencing risky behavior online. Today, cyber bullying has also been linked to a number of mental health concerns, including depression, drug use and suicide.
While it’s easy for parents to think about taking drastic measures in an effort to prevent the unthinkable, entirely cutting kids off from social media doesn’t prepare them for future adulthood. Instead of attempting to shield them from all online risks, we can use the popularity of social media as a tool for teaching healthy relationship and communication skills—both on the Web, and in person.
Below are ten suggestions for protecting your kids from cyber bullying’s damaging effects: before, during and after conflicts arise.
Before: Prevent and Prepare
1. Set healthy tech boundaries as early as possible.
Place appropriate restrictions and permissions on technology use as soon as children are able to access electronics. Setting reasonable limits early can prevent kids from becoming too attached to their computers and phones later on, and encourages them to develop a healthy sense of self apart from their digital identity. This makes it easier for children to disengage from risky or hurtful online communication as they age.
2. Provide an open channel of communication for your child.
Encourage your son or daughter to come to you with questions about his or her relationships at school and/or activity online. If they raise the issue of getting their own phone, computer or social media account, discuss the rights—and responsibilities—that come with that privilege. Together, you can create a “Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities” detailing what behavior your child can accept and display online.
3. Look for teachable moments—and be open to learning along with your kids.
When appropriate, discuss personal or national stories about cyber bullying, privacy, and other online risks with the whole family. Use these events as icebreakers for conversations about what is and isn’t okay online—and what you and your child can do during an unsafe situation. Ask how your child might respond to certain incidents, and invite feedback about how you can best help them with any issues online. Remember that both of your responses are likely to change as your kids age, so keep these dialogues ongoing.
4. Cultivate an environment of awareness and understanding around mental illness.
Children with depression, anxiety and other psychological conditions are often targets for bullies, and shame and secrecy can only make things worse. Fortunately, you can help de-stigmatize these illnesses in your own home by educating yourself and your kids about their causes and effects. Reinforce that mental illness is just like any other in that it revolves around physical changes – in this case, changes in brain chemistry. If your child or someone they know is struggling with mental illness, make sure they get the right help—and emphasize that their symptoms don’t make them a bad or flawed person. Modeling positive behavior can eliminate stigma where it most counts: your home.
During: Spot and Stop Cyber Bullying
5. Monitor for behavior changes.
Isolation, withdrawal, and aversion to activities or social situations your child previously enjoyed can all be red flags for cyber bullying. Unless it’s an extreme circumstance, though, it’s rarely advisable to betray your child’s trust by scrolling through their text messages or private communications without their knowledge. This can easily backfire and lead to even more secretive behavior.
6. Be aware of how much time your child is spending online, or with their personal devices.
If you spot an uptick in online activity, or note that your child seems increasingly or emotionally preoccupied with their phone or computer, it could be a warning sign. If you do need to check your child’s online account, but don’t have a prior agreement where your child knows you might do so, it’s usually best to discuss your concerns and plans with them beforehand (or immediately afterward, if the situation is truly urgent). Express why you feel or felt it was necessary to take action, and involve them in figuring out what to do next.
7. React calmly and compassionately.
If your child brings up an instance of cyber bullying or unsafe online activity, the first thing to do is to thank them for sharing their concerns with you. Then you can work together to decide how to move forward.
After: Help Your Child Cope and Communicate
8. Find the time to talk.
If you observe any behavioral or emotional changes, approach the subject during a low-stress, private setting when both you and your child have time and space to communicate freely. Try to keep things as non-dramatic and non-judgmental as possible. It can help to rehearse what you want to say to your child ahead of time.
9. Ask them what they want.
If your child is experiencing emotional distress because of a situation online, ask them about the outcome they’d like to see, and work together to brainstorm a solution.
10. Think about the bigger picture.
Consider helping to organize school-wide, student-led events and initiatives on cyber bullying, and discuss possible activities and events with school administrators. These initiatives can help build awareness and engage students in combatting social media risks in a proactive, positive way – without shining an unwanted spotlight on your child’s personal experiences.
As parents, it’s up to us to cultivate a sense of empowerment and confidence in our children, both online and off. The links below will direct you to some valuable resources that can help you build your awareness, start a conversation, get help, and take action.
In the past, schoolyard bullies stayed in the schoolyard, or at least outside your front door. But now the schoolyard is social media, and the bullies are coming home with your child.
The bad news is that many kids will be affected by some form of bullying during their teen and pre-teen years. The good news is that you have the power to teach your kids how to prevent cyberbullying—and the power to help them handle it if it happens.
7 Ways to stop cyberbullying before it starts
Before you hand over the smartphone, think carefully about whether or not your child is ready to use technology responsibly. There’s no hard-and-fast rule about the right age for a child to have a phone, but their maturity level should be a big factor in your decision.
Wait until you feel your child is mature enough to communicate respectfully online with their peers, trustworthy enough to come to you with any problems they have, and wise enough to keep personal information private.
Phones designed for kids are a great option. They are limited in how they can be used, which can make monitoring their use much easier for parents. A cyberbully can’t get to your child if they don’t have access to social media sites.
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You may not consider yourself particularly tech savvy, but make sure you familiarize yourself with the social media, messaging, and gaming apps and sites your child is using. Your child will be less likely to talk to you about a problem if they feel like they have to explain the technology.
A little research to learn how these platforms work can help you anticipate potential problems before they arise and help you better manage issues if they happen. A quick Google search like “How does Snapchat work?” will give you plenty of useful articles and videos that can help you become better informed. The better informed you are, the more you can strategize ways to stay safe from cyberbullying.
Cyberbullies get more and more creative with each passing year. While there’s no way to foresee every tactic they might use, it’s important to note a few beyond basic online harassment:
- Cyberbullies may post unflattering, embarrassing, or even photoshopped images or videos to their page to make fun of another person. Kids can then share them on social media and spread the effects of bullying.
- Cyberbullies will also set up fake accounts to “troll” others anonymously, or may even set up a fake account pretending to be their victim and post embarrassing photos or messages.
- Cyberbullies may also take a photo or information that was intended to be private and post it in a public forum without permission.
Once you’ve taken steps to understand how social media and cyberbullying works, talk to your child about cyberbullying. Make sure they can identify cyberbullying and know what to do if they see it.
Watch for examples of cyberbullying on your own social media feed and in news stories—use it as an opportunity for you and your child to learn more about cyberbullying together. Make a point of saying, “That is cyberbullying”—to empower your child to call it by name when they see it. Set a good example with your own social media use by giving yourself healthy limits and modeling positive, respectful behavior online.
Help your kids protect themselves online against cyberbullying by frequently reminding them to keep their personal information private and by making sure their privacy settings are as tight as possible on their various accounts.
Work together to set clear rules about online behavior and to establish screen time limits. Keep an open dialogue about what sites they’re using, what kinds of things they’re posting, and who they’re interacting with online.
Cyberbullying is a growing concern, but there are practical tips and tools you can use to teach your child how to make smarter and safer choices as they navigate their online world.
- Protect your child
- Learn about it
- Deal with it
What’s on the page
- Getting involved in their digital life
- Having meaningful online safety conversations
- Manage children’s social media activity
- Set controls and privacy settings
- What does a good social media profile look like?
- Helping vulnerable children
The best way to protect your child from cyberbullying is to take an active interest right from the start. They need your love and protection online as much as they do in the real world. What your child is exposed to will depend on how they’re using the internet. For example, social network users are more likely to experience cyberbullying, see sexual or violent images, or have contact with strangers.
Have meaningful online safety conversations
The earlier you can talk to your child about making positive choices online, the better. Here are some conversation starters:
Who do they want to be online?
The choices we make online say something about who we are. Talk to your child about how the things they do online paint a picture of themselves, so they shouldn’t post things without thinking about it.
How much should they share about themselves?
Talk to your child about the risks of sharing, identifying where they live or go to school, and what people online might do with that information. Talk about what the risks might be of sharing personal thoughts and feelings.
How much time should they spend online?
Talk about the possible impact of spending too much time online and agree sensible ‘bedtimes’ and breaks during the day. Create opportunities as a family to get ‘offline’ and have fun together. Establishing a family agreement can be a constructive way to set boundaries.
Know what your child does online
Talk to your child about what they do online and what they want to do online. Ask them about the kind of sites they go on and who they talk to; be clear about what you don’t want them to do online.
What can they do if they see something horrible or something bad happens?
No matter how many precautions you take, there will be times where your child feels hurt, scared or confused by something they’ve seen or experienced. Calmly talk through what they’ve seen, how to understand it, and what you can do together to make things better.
What if they make a mistake or do something they later regret?
The important thing is that your child talks to someone if they’ve messed up. Try not to get angry or overreact. Work out together how to remove content and make amends for any harm caused. They might find it hard to talk to you, so let them know they can always contact a confidential service via phone, email or online chat if they need advice.
How can they know what and who to trust online?
There is a lot online that is made up or exaggerated, and there can be a lot of pressure to show what a great time you’re having. There is always the possibility that someone is not who they say they are. Teach your child to always question what they see and to talk to you if something doesn’t seem quite right. It’s never ever a good idea to meet up with someone you have met online without letting your parents know about it.
How can they make the online world better for other people?
We all leave our own digital footprint and have a choice whether that’s positive or negative. Encourage your child to think about the language they use, the things they say and share, and how that might impact on other people. Our guide on internet manners can help.
Bullying has taken a new form in the digital age, ‘Cyber-bullying.’ Kids are now spending more time online on their smartphones playing games, chatting with strangers and are active on social media. All these activities make them vulnerable to cyberbullying.
Parents too need to adapt to this new way of bullying and use technology to keep their kids safe. This article explains what is cyberbullying, how it can affect a child and tips to protect Kids from cyberbullying .
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is bullying by making use of technology. This form of bullying can cause more harm to a child since they may not always know who is behind it.
A few examples of cyberbullying include:
- Prank phone calls.
- Make use of messaging to send harmful messages.
- Make use of social media for cruel comments or posts.
- Spread bad rumor online to harm a child.
- Forward personal posts online to expose a child.
How Cyberbullying affects a child
A child may not always be forthcoming about cyberbullying; thus, it has the potential of affecting a child to a greater extent. Therefore, Best parental control app is necessary since cyberbullying can affect a child in many ways.
Here is how it affects a child:
- A child may get more withdrawn from others.
- It can affect his academic performance.Cyberbullying
- A child may be nervous and anxious.
- The child avoids group outings and stays reserved.
- Tends to be more protective of own devices.
Tips to protect against cyberbullying
Parental control Apps have all the features parents require to keep their children safe from all kinds of threats online.
Here are a few tips to protect children:
- Reduce screen time:
By reducing the amount of time a child spends on a smartphone, parents can make them less vulnerable. This is possible by scheduling their usage of a mobile device, preventing them from playing a game all day, stop them from using smartphones at school, etc.
- Educate yourself:
Parents who are less tech-savvy should educate themselves on working of social media, games and other Apps like messaging, etc. By being informed about threats, a parent is in a better position to protect a kid from cyberbullying.
- Take an interest in a child’s digital world:
Parents can take a deeper interest in their child’s smartphone activities by monitoring their mobile phone activities and looking out for potential issues. Educate a child regarding the importance of privacy and communicate with them more about the perils of social media Apps.
- Reduced permission
Reducing permission, a child has on their smartphone can help protect them from cyberbullies as well. Parents can block all harmful Apps on child device and even deny them permission of installing any new applications.
- Communicating with a child:
Parents need to make sure a child understands how cyberbullies harm children via social media and other Apps. They should also be aware of how to respond to such things.
- Parental Control App:
Parental control is essential thus when it comes to cyberbullying; there is an option of using parental Apps to limit mobile usage, monitor child activities as well as track their whereabouts.
Parental Apps to the rescue
Some of the best parental control Apps can drastically reduce a parent’s worry about a child’s safety and give them peace of mind. These are feature rich Apps aimed at restricting mobile device usage, monitoring children and also tracking their whereabouts.
Here is how it can help:
- Block Apps cyberbullies use:
Block explicit Apps you find installed on your child’s device. This helps keep them safe from any unwanted content and unobjectionable Apps.
- Keep tabs on the calls and messages:
Monitoring the calls and messages on child devices can provide the parents with early warnings about cyberbullies. Parents can thus take appropriate actions like blocking the contact as prevention.
- SOS Mode:
Parental Apps can protect a child in many ways. They also provide an SOS button in case of emergencies which alerts the parents instantly. This may also help a child feel safer.
- Screen Time:
Apps like these can limit the time a child can spend on each App or a category of Apps like games, social media, etc. It is also possible for parents to schedule mobile usage to certain times of the day. For example, it is possible to prevent them from using a mobile device at school, in bed at night, etc.
- GPS feature:
GPS features include an ability to locate the device and pinpoint the location of the child. Besides which it is also as an anti-theft feature.
Bit Guardian is best parental control App around with all the features parents would require to protect kids from cyberbullying. In addition to which it has several other features useful for parents as well. GPS tracking, preventing kids from installing new Apps are some of the other features.
The sole purpose of any parent is to protect their children from any harm. They want to do everything in their power to shield their children from the horrors of the world. Unfortunately, there are people in the world who have ill intentions. These people target children and make them a victim of cyberbullying. The perpetrators are not always adults but can be children as well who have been misguided. Children who become targets of cyberbullying and الابتزاز الالكتروني end up feeling very depressed, underconfident, and alone. As a result, they can’t perform well in school and fall behind other kids. Parents need to take the necessary steps to protect their kids from cyberbullies. They must remember that cyberbullying can have extremely adverse effects on children’s mental health. Hence, it is very important to prevent your kids from getting bullied.
In the present time, children have easy access to the internet. It can’t be avoided completely. However, parents should monitor their children’s online activity to ensure they don’t get into trouble. People should know what to do in case cyberbullies ever target their kids. Here are some steps parents can take to keep their kids safe:
Parents should set tech boundaries for their children. This means that they should place the necessary restriction on their children’s access to the internet. Setting boundaries can prevent kids from becoming overly attached to their electronic gadgets. It stops them from forming unhealthy relationships online and facing cyberbullying or ابتزاز جنسي.
Communicate with Your Kids
Parents should have a very open relationship with their kids. Children should never be afraid to tell their parents anything. This means that kids should know that their parents always have their back. If they ever face blackmail, children should not feel afraid about reaching out to their parents. An open relationship can prevent kids from getting cyberbullied for a long time.
Parents must learn to react appropriately if their child ever comes forward about getting bullied online. If kids ever tell their parents about being involved in any unsafe online activity, parents should not react angrily. They should be appreciative of the fact that their child came clean and take steps to solve their problem.
Although most parents have the best interests of their children at heart, they can sometimes make matters worse. Hence, they must educate themselves about what they should do if their kids get cyberbullied. This way, their children will not have to suffer if parents take the necessary steps.
One of parents’ greatest fears is that their kids will become the victims of cyberbullying, and for good reason: research shows that almost half of all middle and high school students are cyberbullied at some point. If that’s the case, what can you do to protect your kids?
First, monitor your kids’ online behavior on a regular basis and pay close attention to which sites they’re on, who they interact with, and the nature of their interactions. As Sarah Brown, an expert on children’s use of technology, says “Being familiar with their online world is the best way for you to notice if something is wrong.” Research shows that parents who don’t monitor their kids’ online behavior are more likely to be unaware that their kids are being cyberbullied. There are many ways to monitor what your kids are doing online, including setting up their online accounts together with them so that you know their usernames and passwords, creating Google Alerts with your kids’ names, installing monitoring software on their devices, and requiring them to allow you to “friend” or “follow” them online.
If you notice any interactions that could be the cause for alarm, speak to your kids right away. Since kids often try to hide the fact that they’re cyberbullied, ensure them ahead of time that they can always come to you with any problem, no matter how big or small. It’s very important, say Drs. Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin of the Cyberbullying Research Center, to “cultivate and maintain open, candid lines of communication with your children, so that they’re ready and willing to come to you whenever they experience something unpleasant or distressing in cyberspace.”
Ensure your kids ahead of time that you won’t ban them from going online if they come to you for help. As Dr. Michael Nuccitelli, a well-known child psychologist and expert on cyberbullying, says, consistently remind your kids that “they’ll not lose their online privileges, interactive online gaming time, mobile devices or social network site privileges due to cyberbullying issues provided they are open, honest and forthright.” Try not to overreact to situations as this will make your kids think that you’ll overreact if they tell you about being cyberbullied.
When you speak to your kids about their online activities, encourage them not to respond in kind to wannabe cyberbullies: this will only exacerbate the problem. Tara Fishler, a prominent expert on mediation and conflict resolution, says that “responding lets the bully know they affected you. Not posting a response gives you some control so you are not sucked into their harmful activities.” Instead, help block any wannabe cyberbullies from reaching your kids.
As part of your regular conversations with your kids, teach them safe online habits. This includes such basic online security measures as never revealing identifying, personal information like their home addresses, phone numbers, and where they go to school; not sharing their usernames and passwords with others; not leaving online accounts accessible and vulnerable on public devices; and never opening messages and links from people they don’t already know.
Your kids should also learn to select appropriate privacy settings on their online accounts, so that they only accept friends or follow requests from people they personally know, and allow posts to be broadcast only to their circle of friends or followers. As Mrs. Brown succinctly puts it, “Limiting online exposure helps keep the bullies at bay.”
More generally, teach your kids to think carefully before they post anything online. They need to understand the potential repercussions from anything they post, including how certain posts could be used maliciously. A good rule of thumb is to say and do online only what you would say and do face-to-face to someone. Your kids should understand that as soon as they post something, it’s out of their control. Their posts can be forwarded without their knowledge or consent. Ruth Carter, a lawyer who specializes in social media and internet law, says “Kids should be taught early and often that they have no idea when a post will take on a life of its own and go places they can’t control.” A more strict but no less useful approach would be to establish actual “rules” for your kids’ online activities, including by deciding which sites they’re allowed to access, for how long, and what they are permitted to do on those sites.
A final way you can protect your kids from becoming the victims of cyberbullying is to stay in regular contact with their teachers. Since a kid’s cyberbullies are often to be found among his or her class – or school mates, teachers are some of the best sources of information about any potential problems at school. It’s important that you speak to their teachers not just about how they’re doing academically, but also socially. Teachers may notice troubling interactions inside or outside the classroom.
As a new school year begins, many schools sadly will be setting out to tackle one of the most serious problems now spreading across classrooms: cyber-bullying. While new technologies have opened a whole new world of possibilities for children and adults alike, they have also opened the door to a new type of bullying, where bullies use phones and computers to send photos and threats to their victims.
Recent studies show that in fact, most bullying is now perpetrated online – according to Professor Jose Antonio Casa of the University of Cordoba , eight out of ten cases of school bullying are committed in this way. As such it is natural for parents to want to ensure that their children don’t suffer from this scourge, and fortunately, there are ways to fight back.
Firstly, there are some obvious key steps. Understanding what constitutes cyber-bullying by attending talks provided by schools is an initial step that parents can take in order to identify the threat and fight back.
It is also important to keep an eye out for possible changes in behavior that could indicate that something is amiss and of course, to let your children know that you are there to give them the support they need, especially if something happens to them.
In addition to these first steps (and others such as getting to know the language that young people use today), there are also technological solutions to help combat cyberbullying.
Use Parental Control tools
In general, it is practically essential to use parental control tools to protect your children. The reason is to be aware of what kids are writing on the devices they use and to monitor their activity on computers, tablets and smartphones. Whilst you can achieve this by literally looking over their shoulder, it is far easier to take a technological approach.
Panda Protection Service includes a range of tools to protect kids from cyber-bullying as well as the other threats they face on the Internet. In addition to blocking inappropriate content, the service lets users ensure that photos and other files remain private. Moreover, it doesn’t just monitor Web browsers on numerous devices (computers, tablets, smartphones…), it can also control the apps downloaded onto all mobile devices.
Panda Security specializes in the development of endpoint security products and is part of the WatchGuard portfolio of IT security solutions. Initially focused on the development of antivirus software, the company has since expanded its line of business to advanced cyber-security services with technology for preventing cyber-crime.