I recently came across some interesting information about Cyberbullying and thought it was a topic worth chatting about over here as it is a growing area of concern in today’s technological age.
For the moment I have yet to encounter this issue with my kids as they are still under 10 but I know that just around the corner is a scary place where childhood is no longer all fun and games! As a mom I need to be prepared, and I’m sure you do too!
Parents know that children face struggles in life. Whether it is attempting to tie shoelaces correctly, balancing on a bicycle or handling the stress of peer pressure, it is evident that our children all have a mountain to climb at sometime in their lives.
Cyberbullying – the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.
As parents we are no strangers to our children’s adversity, but Cyberbullying is one obstacle that many children face which parents might be unaware of or unsure about. Unfortunately, this digital version of bullying can’t simply be deleted or turned off.
I decided to do a bit more research on the topic and came across Amy Williams, a former social worker, specializing in teen behavioral health. Her focus is on spreading the word on positive parenting techniques and new technologies, particularly the combination of both topics.
Here she shares the Top 10 ways parents can combat Cyberbullying at home:
1. Create a safe retreat at home for your children.
One of the most frightening aspects of cyberbullying is the unlimited access tormentors have to their victims. Implement a family rule that only allows devices and Internet in rooms that are frequented by family members and designate certain times of the day to “unplug”. Restricting time online or shutting down at night will offer teens respite from the 24/7 lure of their devices.
2. Follow the age and privacy guidelines recommended by Social Media sites and apps.
Many people bypass the rules and recommendations, immediately agreeing to a sites terms and conditions. Many sites, including Facebook, are designed for people over the age of 13. Follow the age requirements and help children set their privacy settings.
3. Understand fake profiles, “catfishing”, and stolen identities.
One of the drawbacks to online anonymity is the ability to create fake profiles. In recent years “catfishing” has been used to describe when a person uses fake profiles to attract romantic attention from an unsuspecting victim–cyberbullies use the same techniques.
Many teenagers have several accounts where they create new names, use different images, and develop new personas. Some of these accounts are used to friend and then cyberbully victims. Occasionally, cyberbullies steal another person’s name and create a new profile. Aggressors might use this perona to hurt others or create a spoof page and post embarrassing rumors.
4. Learn how to screenshot, save messages, and store texts.
If a child receives menacing messages or cruel images make sure to document them. IF the behavior continues and your interventions are not working, parents will need to prove that a child is a victim of cyberbullying. Concrete evidence is often needed to get assistance from school personnel and police.
5. If a child is receiving cruel or bullying messages, sit down and read them together.
Designate a time where you can open messages together. This will allow direct access to the texts, messages, disappearing apps, and images to understand the full scope of the bullying. Parents can save or forward inappropriate comments while providing a shoulder to lean on.
6. Love your children and reassure them that things will get better.
Cyberbullying has a list of nasty side effects that can harm a child’s self esteem. Depression, thoughts of suicide, and loss of self respect are very common in bully victims. Teens, especially victims of bullying, need to be reminded that this phase won’t last forever and things will improve.
7. Focus on family activities and bonding time.
It is natural for teenagers to place a high importance on peer acceptance. Cyberbullying can often isolate a child, leaving them to suffer alone. Parents need to make family a priority. This can be as simple as eating dinner together or taking walks. Show children they are not alone.
8. Seek out support for your child.
It’s ironic that Social Media can break a child, but it can also be used to find support. Look for anti-cyberbullying pages or sites, support groups in your area, or forums that let victims connect. Parents may also want to utilize a counselor for one-on-one sessions.
9. Victims can turn the tables and become the bully.
It isn’t uncommon for the victim to become a bully in a last ditch effort to regain control. Keep an eye out for bullying behaviors.
10. Harness technology to help keep tabs on a child’s cell phone and Internet activity.
Utilize software that allows access to all of a child’s texts, Social Media accounts, and location. Simply install the discreet app on their Smartphone to be able to monitor their activity.
Unfortunately, Cyberbullying isn’t black and white. Online aggression can take many forms and affect any demographic. Have you seen those nasty online forums? Yes, even adults turn into Cyberbullies!