We all remember that classroom bully. You know the one that would pull the girls’ pigtails, give the boys wedgies, or steal your lunch money? Whether you were actually the one being bullied or not, you could imagine how that must feel. To be put in the spotlight and teased by a group of your peers was mortifying to say the least.
Now imagine that feeling to the tenth power.
Think about not only being bullied in the classroom, but being a victim of bullying every time you access the Internet or use your cell phone. What makes it worse is that you’re not only the butt of the joke in front of the kids in your class, but in front of the world. That’s what cyber bullying is – the act of bullying someone with the use of modern technology.
This happens to thousands of school aged children each day. In fact, surveys and statistics suggest that 9% of all children grade 6-12 report being bullied.
So what can you do as a parent to prevent this from happening to your child? You must be fully aware of your child’s activities and educate yourself on things to look out for. Below are some suggestions on how to make this easier:
Utilize Monitoring Software
As your child gets older, it becomes more difficult to know what their activities are, especially online. Tools such as WebSafety make it easier for parents to utilize modern technology to protect their children. Installing monitoring software provides parents with the ability to monitor their child’s activities through texts, emails, and social media. Being able to pinpoint potential bullying before it gets out of hand can help prevent the emotional and social embarrassment it causes your child.
Set Parental Controls
Let’s face it, children are inquisitive and want to explore the world unknown. When it comes to accessing the internet in particular, you want to try and limit their exposure to things that are inappropriate. Parental controls are effective in making this happen. Most operating systems and internet browsers have customizable settings that allow administrators (which in this case would be you) to manage the way in which devices can be used. You can determine which games your children are allowed to play, which sites they’re allowed to visit, and even how long your child is allowed to utilize certain devices.
Talk to Them – It is not enough to just educate yourself on cyber bullying. Your children also need to be aware of what it is, how it can impact them, and ways to steer clear. Parents should talk with their children about each of these topics and encourage open dialogue. Your children need to know that you’re there for them should a problem arise and talking to them allows them to feel more comfortable with coming to you in the future.
Set Some Ground Rules
When it comes to texting and social media usage for school aged children, you really want to set boundaries early on. Some rules you might consider include:
- Using positive language when texting, sending emails, and communicating via social media
- Keeping pictures and videos “PG”
- No engaging in cyber bullying if someone else is the victim
- Be careful who you share personal information with
- Don’t respond if you’re being bullied online
- Block anyone who starts teasing them
- Talk to a teacher, parent, or respectable adult if they suspect bullying or feel victimized
How to Deal with Cyber Bullying
As you’re probably aware, there are no foolproof ways to prevent your child from being bullied by their peers. Knowing how to deal with cyber bullying should your child become the victim can help to minimize the emotional effects. Below are some suggestions on how to do this:
- Block all bullies – Whether your child is being bullied via text message, email, or through social media, there are ways in which you can block the bully and any negative spectators so that they cannot continue to bully your child.
- Acknowledge their feelings – let your child know that you understand what they’re going through.
- Help them to see things in a different light – your child needs to know that it is nothing that they did that caused them to get picked on. Explaining why people get bullied can help them to feel better about themselves.
- Talk to other adults – After you’ve comforted your child and eliminated the problem you need to report the abuse by talking to other adults. This includes the teachers, guidance counselors, and parents of the other children. When everyone is on one accord it makes it easier to come up with a plan to prevent it from happening in the future.
Unfortunately, children are bullied every day through the use of technology. This bullying has a lasting impact on their lives as it is on a much larger scale then most of us might remember growing up. The best thing you can do for your child is to educated yourself, put safeguards in place, set some boundaries, and learn how to handle the matter should they become a victim.