Cyberbullying: Online Safety for Families
se that one of their biggest stressors has followed. One out of three children between ages 12-17 report being the victim of some sort of cyberbullying or online harassment. It seems more prevalent for girls, although children of all genders, races and interests can cyberbullied.
Dismissing this kind of behavior as “kids being kids” is a terrible mistake. Instead, here are some concrete steps you can take to help protect your child’s online life from bullying.
Keep an open dialogue.
Communication is key in most parenting challenges, but this is particularly true in the online arena. You don’t want to be among the 29% of parents who allow their children to use the Internet with no supervision, but you also don’t need to watch them incessantly.
Be frank and honest about what you see going on in your own online life. You’ll then serve as a model and show your child that they can share with you as well. It’s a lot easier to find out from your children that they are being bullied than to learn through accessing their accounts or any other technological trick you might consider.
If you can continue this open dialogue, it’s important to know what to do if they bring a situation to your attention. The first step, contrary to many parents’ instincts, is to keep copies of everything hurtful received by your child. You might need it for proof. Second, if the bullying is related to school, an administrator should be notified. Every school should have anti-bullying procedures in place. If your child is threatened, it’s not an overreaction to get the police or other authorities involved.
Teach about security.
Children, particularly teenagers, share everything with their friends. That includes their devices and social media accounts. Safety starts with instructing your child that this kind of sharing is not a smart idea. First, teenage friendships change all the time. This week’s friend could be next week’s enemy. Second, if the friend doesn’t have access to a device or social network, there’s probably a reason: their parents took it away. That means the friend likely isn’t responsible enough to have those privileges.
In today’s schools, students are always on the move with their devices. Make sure your kids have a passcode that locks their devices (or, better yet, a fingerprint scanner). If they are using the computer, they need to learn how to log themselves out after every use. Starting this habit young is extremely valuable later in life.
Visit Norton’s Security Resource Center for more tips and information on Internet safety, cybercrime and cyberbullying.