My son is 10 years old and we’ve already dealt with bullying at school. The older he gets the more he’s being exposed to the online world. He asks about creating social media accounts and has a smart phone. With cyberbullying becoming a headline in the news every few months, I worry about my kids safety and well-being. Let’s have a discussion about cyberbullying and see how we can take control to protect our precious children.
Bullying is always an issue, but with the increased use of the internet in our day-to-day lives, cyberbullying has become more common. Cyberbullying works much the same way as more traditional methods; a bully will select their target and do everything in their power to victimize them, whether through harassment, shaming, or other means. If you think it’s any less potent because the bully is behind a computer screen, think again! Cyberbullying often has some of the same consequences as other forms of bullying—and what’s worse, your kids can’t escape it just by coming home.
For more information, take a look at this infographic from Secure Thoughts.
How to Protect Your Children
Here are a few simple tips to keep kids safe:
- Check up on your kids. If you think there’s a problem—or even might be a problem—talk to your kids about it. Make sure they know the dangers involved in uploading an excess of information about themselves. Of course, they’re not always going to tell you the problem, so you need to stay a step ahead of them and take other measures as well. But making sure your kids know that you’re concerned and willing to talk about these issues might help them open up to you about it.
- Limit their computer time. A frequent problem with cyberbullying is that it sometimes seems impossible to escape. Whereas with traditional bullying, you could leave the situation—go home, hide in the library, whatever. Kids these days are often tuned in to their phones and computers all the time, meaning they’re always susceptible to cyberbullying. It might sound silly, but make sure your kids realize that their online life isn’t the whole world.
- Look over the browser history to see which sites your kids frequent. If you suspect they’re being bullied, sharing too much information, or having some other problem on a specific site, look into blocking the site. This isn’t a foolproof method since your kids likely have access to the site at schools or friends’ houses, but it’s a good step to take.
- Limit the information the bully has access to. If a bully has a lot of fodder for attack, there’s a lot they can do to harass your kids. Make sure your kids understand and implement privacy tools at the website level, and get a VPN installed so you can protect your internet connection as well. Seem excessive? Hacking sites is easy enough that even teens can do it. Trust me, you want to make sure you’re not putting more information out there than you intend to.
Although cyberbullying is an unfortunate reality of the world we live in, it’s possible to minimize the dangers if you keep yourself informed, do your best to help, and set out some ground rules ahead of time.
Below is an amazing infographic that will help you take control and protect your kids from the risk of being cyberbullied. Don’t sit back and let it happen, take action, get involved.
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