How Parents Can Protect Their Children From Cyberbullying
Top tips on how to protect your children from the threats associated with online bullying
20 October 2019
The term “helicopter mom” has skyrocketed in the last decade or so.
For those unfamiliar, a helicopter mom is basically an overbearing and overprotective mom. She needs to be glued to her child at all times, indulging his every whim.
Let’s face it, every kid thinks that his mom overprotective, but what kids often fail to realize (at least until they’re all grown up and have kids of their own) is that our moms do it because they love us, and want to protect us from harm’s way- it’s written in their genes. Even the deadliest animals in the world look after their offspring, so, who are we kidding; we’re not all that special.
In today’s day and age, where there are so many dangerous people creeping around, all this worrying might be justified. Don’t get me wrong here; we’re not, by any means, saying that parents have to worry about every aspect of their children’s lives. We’re just trying to say that it’s difficult to raise a child, nowadays even more so. It can be challenging to teach your kid to develop resilience to challenges and threats of the Internet, especially with so many cyberbullies lurking around.
Though bullying behavior has been around forever, cyberbullying presents new challenges. It can occur as soon as children gain access to a tablet device, a computer, or a cell phone. If they’re using social features in online games or on mobile devices, they could be exposed to teasing, name-calling, or cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying can even occur when your child is doing some homework project. According to SafeAtLast, 70% of kids encounter violent or sexual content online while doing homework. So what can a concerned mom do? Get involved. Set limits. Communicate. Pretty much everyday parenting stuff, but with a focus on your kid’s online activities.
Here’s how you can stay on top of things, and protect your children from the threats associated with cyberbullying.
Have a talk with your kid about it
Having an honest, open communication with your kids is key to any healthy relationship. So, set aside some time when you get back from work to talk about cyberbullying. Inform them that you know that these things exist and that if they experienced it, you want to talk about it, and eventually put an and to it, together.
You must not judge them, even if there is a bad language, discriminating photos, or other potentially embarrassing elements involved.
Most importantly, make sure your kids are aware that it’s not ok to harass others. For clarification, you can explain what constitutes cyberbullying. In other words, if you want to protect your kids from it, you first need to keep them from becoming cyberbullies, too.
Cyberbullying usually happens to kids in middle school. The more unrestricted access these kids have to the Internet, the higher the chance of experiencing cyberbullying. To minimize the possibility of your child becoming a victim, or a cyberbully, set some limits. For example, you might restrict Internet use to 2 hours/day.
You should also consider setting up texting filters so that your kids can only communicate with close friends and family members. Additionally, you can use a shared email account, so you can keep an eye on what comes in and what comes out.
Work with school authorities
Most schools focus on teaching kids about real-world bullies, neglecting the fact that cyberbullying is also a real threat. Tell school administrators and teachers that you are concerned about it, and ask them to include the topics in school policies. The more parents talk about it and the more schools will make students aware that cyberbullying is just as unacceptable as bullying.
You probably pay attention to who your kids hang out with, what grades do they have in schools, and all that right? Extend that engagement and supervision to their online activities. Examine their social networks’ profiles, and create an account of your own on those networks. Your kids will probably object that you’re trying to control them but tell them that it’s the main condition if they want to be online themselves.
Bear in mind that tech-savvy kids might keep you from seeing their posts by adjusting their networks’ privacy settings. If you want a more effective parenting solution, install parenting-control software on the devices your kids use.
As for the younger kids, you should demand that they tell you their passwords for any sites they use. This way, you can take a sneak peek occasionally, and make sure their communications stay tame.