Family & Relationships

7 Tips to Keep Your Child Safe from Cyberbullying

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Cyberbullying is more than just “kids being kids.” While it generally starts as a face-to-face encounter with someone the victim knows, texts and social media can quickly and easily evolve into widespread harassment and public humiliation. Cyberbullying occurs in many forms, from sending mean messages or threats, spreading rumors, posting unflattering pictures or pretending to be someone else.

Young people need to understand the consequences of what they post online. Sharing personal information via social networks, text message or other online activity is an easy way to ensure that online safety has been compromised.

Even something intended as a joke could reflect badly on them when they later apply for college or a job. And if remarks are intended to hurt or harass someone, the sender could run afoul of the terms and conditions set forth by service providers or social platforms. As laws in every state become more strict, cyberbullies – and their parents – are more frequently facing legal charges for harassment.

To better protect your children and make sure they’re staying safe, talk to them and find out more about their experiences with cyberbullying. Consider these tips a way to start the conversation and stay safer online.

  1. Once your child has a personal phone or social media account, it’s time to explain the consequences of what’s posted. Set – and keep – boundaries that consider loss of phone or computer privileges if damaging pictures or messages are posted or forwarded.
  2. Make sure teens know that what goes online, stays online. Any electronic message is, or can be, made public very easily. If you don’t want everyone to know, don’t send it online. Better yet, follow the old adage: if you’d be embarrassed if it was published on the front page of the newspaper, then don’t write it.
  3. Encourage your children to tell an adult if they see cyberbullying happen. Let them know they will not be punished if they are the victim and reassure them that being bullied is not their fault.
  4. If your child is harassed, keep all cyberbullying messages as proof. Depending on the severity of the message, parents may want to involve the school or the police.
  5. If necessary, block the person who is sending harassing messages. You may also need to get a new phone number or email address and be cautious about who knows the new contact information.
  6. Make sure teens never share passwords with anyone except a parent. Don’t write it down or keep it in a place where others could find it.
  7. Parents may want to store electronics in a shared space such as a family room and limit internet access in kids’ rooms. It’s also important to have times when everyone simply turns off all the technology. Consider setting boundaries at mealtime or a certain time in the evening when everyone turns off cell phones, tablets and computers.

As a parent or guardian, it’s important to watch for warning signs that someone you know is being bullied online. If your child is a victim of cyberbullying, document the behavior and report it to school or law enforcement immediately.


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