Cyberbullying is a serious issue in today’s digital world. Children spend a decent amount of their time on mobile devices, tablets, and desktop computers for communication, entertainment, and learning. The new generation of children are much more technology-savvy, and use the Internet to communicate with their friends. However, there are times when the Internet can be used as a bullying mechanism, and national news stories have shown this time and time again.
As Internet usage increases around the world, the potential for cyberbullying grows with it. Today’s bullies believe they can circumvent teachers and parents by bullying kids through instant messaging, social media, emails, and chat rooms. And while cyberbullying isn’t as blatantly obvious as physical bullying, the long-term effects can be even worse.
If your child is being bullied, understand that you are not alone. A slew of cyberbullying statistics demonstrates how serious it is among youth. For instance, one report found that at least 25% of teenagers were bullied via text message or Internet, and 52% of young people overall have been victims. What’s most frightening is this: 95% of teens who witness bullying behavior don’t do anything about it. As parents, it’s your job to know when to step in and how to stop it before it becomes a serious issue.
Monitor Online Usage
Monitoring your children’s online usage will help you better understand where they’re spending their time and how. Using Wifi routers with parental controls gives you the flexibility of Internet access combined with the power of Internet management. Advanced routers like Gryphon Connect make it possible to view browsing history in real-time and even cap Internet usage for bedtime and homework. If you notice your children spending too much time on social media or in chat rooms, talk to them about who they’re talking to and ensure everything is fine.
Keep a record of bully behavior.
In the unfortunate event that you discover your child is a victim of cyberbullying, it’s important for you to save and print all offending messages. Be sure the email addresses and screen names are on display. This will help prove your case, and you’ll be able to use this to show administrators or authorities.
Don’t overreact or underreact.
If you overreact by blaming your children or making loud threats to other children, your child will think twice before coming to you again and will want to hide future issues of theirs. Punishment is another form of overreacting: taking away their electronic devices will only encourage them to be secretive.
No one deserves to be cyberbullied, so it’s never the child’s fault. It’s important that you are supportive, and that you work cohesively to discuss exactly what happened and form a solution. When your children know that you’re on their side, they’re much more likely to open up with details and feel comfortable confiding in when they need help.
On the other hand, underreacting can prolong the issue. Never tell your children to “shrug it off” or “get over it.” This will only add to the damage. Cyberbullying can have lasting effects, and when parents make children feel like it isn’t a big deal or that it’s just “kid behavior,” it stifles children’s ability to handle their emotions properly and be transparent with adults.
Keep a list of their social accounts.
Sit down with your children and record their social media accounts and passwords. Ensure your child that you’re not violating their privacy and have no plans to check their accounts consistently. By letting them know that you keep passwords for emergency purposes and that you trust them to come to you with any issues that arise, they’ll be more understanding of your need to collect this type of information.
Have a candid conversation about cyberbullying.
There’s no need to beat around the bush when it comes to dealing with serious topics. Even if you haven’t seen signs of cyberbullying, it’s important that you talk to your children about what it is before it has the chance to happen. By having early, candid conversations about cyberbullying, it will help your children understand and recognize signs. They won’t need to be scared when it happens, because they recognize these patterns of behavior from the talk they had with their parents.
Ask them if they’ve ever been bullied or seen others bullied. Make sure that they are comfortable when you have this talk, and use relaxed, soothing language so as not to make them feel as if they’re in trouble.
Parenting is not easy, but with these expert tips, you’ll be more prepared to keep your child safe online.