Cyberbullying is a serious problem and it looks like it is here to stay. The emotional implications that the victims suffer can be far-reaching. Although there are a number of things you can do if you discover that your child is a cyberbullying victim or even a cyber bully, the harm may have already been inflicted.
Your child could experience depression, anger or any other type of emotional distress and sometimes, by the time you discover that your child has been a victim of cyberbullying, it may be too late.
Quite terrifying, wouldn’t you say? You are probably asking yourself what you can do to protect your children and as with other troubles in life, prevention is often the best defense. There are a number of steps that you can take in order to prevent your children from becoming cyberbullying victims:
- Talk to your children about respecting others and explain that bullying hurts. Explain that the rules for interacting with people in real life also apply for interacting online or through cell phones
- Explain to your children the consequences that they could suffer if they misuse the technology (e.g., damaging their reputation, getting in trouble at school or with the police)
- Demonstrate appropriate Internet use! Your children learn from your behavior and imitate it. Don’t harass or joke about others while online, especially around your children
- Become involved in your children’s cyberspace. Sit at the computer and let them teach you how they use the Internet and monitor their online activities but use caution when doing this – if your children feel intimidated they may go to extremes to hide their online behavior. Ask them if they have ever been harassed or ridiculed and encourage them to tell you if this happens
- Restrict cell phone use
- Set time limits on Internet use: limit the number of hours per day and also the times during the day when your children are allowed to surf. More often than not, cyberbullying occurs late at night
- Use an “Internet Use Contract” and a “Mobile Phone Use Contract” to create clear and understandable rules about what is acceptable and what is not. Make sure you and your children sign the contract and agree on the terms. Place the contracts in a visible place – near the computer would be a good place
- Place the computer in a family room or somewhere visible (not in your child’s bedroom)
- Encourage your child to notice cyberbullying incidents and to report any incidents they come across
- Use filtering and blocking software. PureSight can assist you in monitoring your children’s online behavior, setting time limits and in blocking offensive and hateful content, even in instant messaging programs. Learn more about PureSight
Do you suspect that your child is already a cyberbullying victim? Click here to find out how to recognize the warning signs and here to find out what you can do.