With new age technology, bullying is no longer confined to schoolyards or street corners. It can occur almost anywhere and at any time. Cyberbullies use emails, texts, mobile phones, and social media sites to torment victims at all hours. Among school-aged children, cyberbullying is on the rise.
Some facts you should know:
- One in three kids say that they’ve been cyberbullied.
- 40% of victims say the bullying took place on instant messenger services; 30% said it happened on social media sites; and 29% said they were bullied while playing an online game. (Cyberbully 411)
- Cyberbullying is especially prevalent with kids ages 9 to 17.
It’s not always easy to know how or when to step in as a parent. So, here are some things you can do:
- Have a discussion about cyberbulling
It is crucial to be open and honest with your communication. Set aside a few minutes to talk to your child about cyberbullying. Let them know you are aware of the trend; that you are concerned and want to know if they are experiencing it; and, if they are being bullied, that you want to help put a stop to it. Most importantly, educate your children. Let them know that it is not OK to harass others, explaining exactly what cyberbullying is. If you want to protect your kids from cyberbullying, keep them from becoming cyberbullies.
- Get involved
Know your kids’ friends and where they go after school. Find out which social networks your kids and their friends use. Create your own accounts and follow your kids. If they protest, tell them that it’s a condition of being online. For the tech-savvy kids that know how to adjust their networks’ privacy settings to keep you from seeing their posts, install parental-control software on the computers your kids use.
- Set limits
The more unrestricted, unsupervised access kids have to the internet, the greater their chances of being bullied. To lessen the chance your child will be a victim, set limits. You might restrict laptop use to after-dinner hours or maybe set up texting/instant-messaging filters so that kids can only communicate with family members and close friends.
Cyberbullying is harmful. As a parent, be prepared to step in and protect your child should the need arise.