How do you protect your kids from an unknown, unseen assailant? You wouldn’t dream of letting your child walk into a dark tunnel, alone, in the middle of the night in an unsafe park. You should feel the same way about letting them navigate the internet unsupervised. Many thing can happen, including cyberbullying.
Regardless of how much your child resents it, you can only protect him or her by monitoring what they do online.
Here’s a few tips from HelpGuide:
- Monitor: Keep the computer in a busy area of your house so you can easily monitor its use, rather than allowing your child use a laptop or tablet in his or her bedroom, for example.
- Limit: Limit data access to your child’s smart phone if he or she uses it to surf the web. Some wireless providers allow you to turn off text messaging services during certain hours.
- Filter: Set up filters on your child’s computer. Tracking software can block inappropriate web content and help you check up on your child’s online activities.
- Passwords: Insist on knowing your child’s passwords and learn the common acronyms kids use online and in text messages.
- People: Know who your child communicates with online. Go over your child’s address book and instant messenger “buddy list” with them. Ask who each person is and how your child knows them.
- Talk: Encourage your child to tell you or another trusted adult if they receive threatening messages or are otherwise targeted by cyberbullies, while reassuring them that doing so will not result in their loss of computer or cell phone privileges.
Cyberbulling isn’t “no big deal”. Its a huge deal- and it’s becoming more and more of a problem. Bullying used to be a face to face issue, and when kids were away from the bully, they were safe. Now, there is a screen waiting to show the bullying to your kids. You can never get away. I know my own daughter tolerated the bullying she endured until she was was cyberbullied and told to “go kill yourself” over and over online- and that’s what sent her over the edge to where she thought she thought the only way to escape was to die.