5 Steps to Prevent and Stop Cyberbullying
Today’s kids are at high risk for cyberbullying. Learn how you can prevent it.
Kids can be brutally honest. However, with the rise of social media, that honesty can take a more inescapable and malevolent form – cyberbullying. Help prevent cyberbullying and minimize the impact with these tips:
Get to know social media
Cyberbullying starts on the Internet. That means you should become familiar with the social media platforms and apps that your child is using. This lets you know how kids use the app to communicate or game, and how to apply controls and security passwords. You can use search engines and online videos to find tutorials about how to best use parental controls.
Set a good example
The actions that adults in a child’s life take have a powerful impact on what actions the child takes. If a child hears you gossiping about another family, it should not come as a surprise when that child starts posting something negative about said family or family member. Let children and teens see you choosing to be respectful, even when you’re upset, and reaching out directly to someone rather than complaining behind his or her back. Avoid sharing posts that denigrate someone you are having a disagreement with.
Understand your child
Once you know what social media is about, you then need to take a look at the next factor in cyberbullying – your child. Is your child ready for social media and gaming apps? If so, which ones? How likely is it that your child will come to you with problems? Are they too trusting, or too open? Keep these aspects in mind to help you decide when to let your child online, with what apps, and with how much oversight. Kids are safest, both online and IRL, when their adults know who they’re with, what they’re doing, and where they’re going.
Know how cyberbullies function
A third piece of the puzzle is knowing how cyberbullies operate. Of course, there will be online insults, but that may only be the start of something worse. Photoshopped pictures can be embarrassing or even humiliating. One person signing up under multiple fake accounts can easily send many inappropriate or threatening messages. Talk to your child about what forms harassment can take, never to send photos of themselves – especially if they have never met the person in real life, and report messages, if not to you, then at least to the owner of the site in question. Once bullying has started, it can only be ended when it is exposed.
Stay connected with your child on and offline
One final way to help prevent cyberbullying is to start talking with your child. Yes, you definitely need to underscore the dangers of misusing social apps and games, as well as not trusting everyone you meet online, but you also need to just talk. In many cases, the families of victims of cyberbullying didn’t know about the cyberbullying until it was too late. Having regular, organic conversations can help you understand how your child is navigating social media and can hint at any issues that could need a little grown-up navigation.
While no one – child or adult – is immune from being cyberbullied, there are ways you can minimize its effects, and even help prevent it from happening at all. Know what you and your child are getting into, and keep that conversation flowing. That way, you can address minor issues, and enjoy everything positive that social media has to offer.
Have other questions? View the SafeTouch blog for more safety tips.