10 ways to protect kids from cyberbullying
Raising children in a rapidly changing world comes with obstacles, and every child has a unique set of challenges. In modern times, however, raising children at this age poses more challenges. With the advent and proliferation of the Internet, which allows everyone, including the youngest, to connect to the Internet and social networks, a new challenge arises for parents.
Unfortunately, harassment is one of the challenges associated with technology. Cyberbullying involves the use of electronic communications to intimidate someone by sending intimidating and threatening messages. In the past, some children were only bullied at school, but between the rise of connected devices and the ever-growing Internet of Things, cyberstalking has become a problem.
This is made worse by the hours children and teens spend online. According to statistics, seven in ten young people are cyberbullied before the age of 18 and the most common type of bullying is mean comments.
These days, young children and teens are sharing more personal information on their social media profiles – in a buzz to stay relevant on networking platforms – which exposes them to cyberbullying. Cyberbullying has been linked to several mental health issues such as depression, drug use, and even suicide among young children and adolescents.
For parents, protecting their children from cyberbullying can be a daunting task, especially if they don’t understand how cyberbullying works or the threatening problems it can create. Unfortunately, parents are often the last to know about issues because their children fear they will be in more trouble.
While cutting young children off social media altogether may seem like the easiest and best thing for parents to do to protect them from cyberbullying, it doesn’t help them become resilient individuals ready to face the roadblock of cyberbullying. abuse that the world throws both online and offline.
It is therefore imperative as parents to get involved in your child’s digital life and also understand how digital devices and social networking sites work. Below are, according to experts, 10 ways to protect your children from the effects of cyberbullying.
Set healthy limits early
The best time to protect your child from cyberbullying is before it even starts. According to cybersecurity expert Jerry Thompson, to prevent these incidents of cyberbullying, it is necessary to place restrictions and permissions on the use of internet-connected devices in the home as soon as children can access it. electronic. He said: âIt can help them prevent them from becoming too attached to their computers and phones as they grow older. Setting reasonable limits on internet access can also help them develop and have a healthy dose of self-esteem regardless of their digital identity. ”
Cultivate healthy and open communication
As parents, it is best if your child feels comfortable talking to you about their insecurity and that they are confident that you can handle it. Let them know that they can ask you for help if something is inappropriate, disturbing, or dangerous.
Thompson said encouraging his child to go to one of them first with any questions or doubts about his relationships at school and / or online activities could help protect him from cyberbullying.
He noted, âIf they raise the issue of getting their phone, computer, or social media account, discuss the rights and responsibilities that come with that privilege. Together you can create a âBill of Rights and Responsibilitiesâ detailing the behavior your child can accept and display online. ”
Create teachable moments
It is safer to report instances of cyberbullying to your child to teach them how to react and what not to do if they are faced with such a problem. It is also important to teach them how to protect their privacy online from an early age.
Thomson says, âIf applicable, discuss personal or national stories about cyberbullying, privacy and other online risks with the whole family. Use these events as an icebreaker to discuss what’s okay and what’s not online and what you and your child can do in a dangerous situation.
âAsk how your child might react to certain incidents and ask them how you can best help them solve any problem online. It’s important to note, however, that as your child ages, both of your responses are likely to change as well, so it’s necessary to make them an ongoing conversation.
Pay attention to the child’s time online
It is necessary to monitor the time your child is spending online, as this can help protect them from online bullies. Thompson said: âIf you notice an increase in online activity, or if you notice your child seeming more and more preoccupied with their phone or computer, it could be a warning sign.
“If you need to verify your child’s online account, but don’t have a prior agreement that your child knows you could, it’s usually best to discuss your concerns and plans with them. beforehand (or immediately after, if the situation is really urgent). Explain why you feel or have felt a need to take action and involve them in determining what to do next.
Watch for sudden changes in behavior
Be on the lookout for any sudden changes in behavior in your child, as these could be warning signs of something deeper.
Thompson added, âIsolation, withdrawal, and aversion to activities or social situations that your child previously enjoyed can all be red flags for cyberbullying. Unless it is an extreme circumstance, however, it is rarely advisable to betray your child’s trust by scrolling through their text messages or private communications without their knowledge. This can easily backfire and lead to even more secretive behavior. ”
One of the fears of young children is the reaction of their parents when they find out that something is wrong with them. Sometimes some parents even blame their children even for events that are beyond the child’s control.
In the case of cyberbullying, it’s best to thank your child for sharing their concern with you and working together to find a lasting solution.
Pattie Fitzgerald, Childhood Education and Internet Safety Expert, said, âIf your child is being bullied, be supportive and understanding. Find out how long the bullying has been going on, who the bullies are, and make sure you work together to find a solution. Let your child know that they are not to blame for being bullied.
Don’t tell your child to ignore
Many parents cannot properly deal with the bullying of their children.
Fitzgerald said, âThe emotional pain of being bullied is very real and can have lasting effects on children and teens. Don’t tease your child about being bullied or respond with a “kids will be kids” attitude.
Keep a record of bullies, report to their school
It is important to keep track of who has bullied your child online and what they said or did.
Bullying prevention advocate Sherri Gordon has advised parents to save posts, comments and posts as evidence.
Gordon said, âThis includes emails, blog posts, social media posts, tweets, text messages, etc. While your child’s first reaction is to delete everything, remind them that without proof, you have no proof of cyberbullying. Once the evidence is gathered and you’ve spoken to the school and the police, you should be able to delete the comments.
She noted that it is important to report incidents if cyberbullying occurs on school premises, adding that this would help identify and punish bullies easily and eventually bring the act to a halt.
Seek advice, support
One of the biggest mistakes most parents whose child has been cyberbullied make is believing that they can handle it on their own. It might only isolate the child further, making matters worse.
Gordon noted, âCyberbullying is a big problem that shouldn’t be addressed on its own. Surround your child with supportive friends and family. Remember, it helps to talk to someone about what’s going on.
âConsider finding a professional counselor to help your child heal. You should also have your child evaluated by a healthcare professional, especially if you notice any changes in mood, sleep or eating habits.
Engage in advocacy groups
As parents, it’s best to get the big picture if your child is struggling with cyberbullying. Joining and hosting events and seminars can help your child overcome cyberbullying, including other children.
Thompson said, âConsider helping to organize school-wide student-led events and initiatives on cyberbullying, and discuss possible activities and events with school administrators. These initiatives can help educate and engage students in addressing social media risks in a proactive and positive manner, without shining the spotlight on your child’s personal experiences.
Sources: Parents, FamilyOnlineSafety Institute, KidsHealth, CentreforParentingEducation, PsychCentral ,,