We all known bullying when we see it, but it can take a more secretive form in this day and age. Cell phones, computers, iPads, and other devices are all venues for children and teens to hurt each other with words and images.
Where does cyberbullying occur? It can happen via email, text message, Facebook, and/or literally any types of website or social media domain. Mean messages and videos should be taken very seriously, because cyberbullying is hard to escape when young people can harass others 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The behavior can be anonymous and spread quickly, making it incredibly difficult to discover who started the harassment.
Unsure of how you can protect your child from cyberbullying? Here are a few reminders.
Don’t fear technology. There are many positive benefits that your teen receives from using the Internet and communicating with others via social media. Technology has become an important part of modern society, so your son or daughter will have to learn to use it to be successful in the world. Rather than banning the Internet or certain devices, it’s more helpful to educate your child about how to use technology safety and how to ask for help if they need it.
Talk about monitoring. Your children should understand that you will monitor their technology and Internet use to protect them, not to try and catch them misbehaving. While some amount of privacy is needed for teens, like having their own room or time to themselves, your child should never have any private accounts online that you cannot access.
Respond appropriately. Teach your children not to share information or photos that might cause trouble. Rather than responding to bullying messages, they should come to you immediately. Together you can take steps to block the bully on social media, email, or a cell phone, and report them to the necessary people, such as school officials or the police. Cyberbullying is a crime when there is the threat of violence, hate crimes, child pornography, and sexually explicit messages.
Stop bullying behavior. Because much cyberbullying is anonymous, your child may be tempted to harass or insult others via the Internet. Never assume that your child is not capable of cyberbullying. Instead talk to them about the negative impact of the behavior and how they can work to solve problems with their peers out in the open. Explain to them why it’s important that they report cyberbullying when they see it to an adult.
Technology can be a blessing and not a curse, if you keep your eyes open and pay attention to how your son or daughter uses it. When you take cyberbullying seriously, you’ll be able to stop it when you see it, leaving your teen free to enjoy interacting with others online.