14 Practical Tips To Stop Cyberbullying
Today, 28% of U.S. students in grades 6 to 12 experienced bullying. Unfortunately, bullying is happening just as much in school, as it does online. Parents and children can take steps to prevent cyberbullying before it starts or become worse. Here are 14 practical tips to help parents stop cyberbullying.
1. Talk To Your Child About Cyberbullying
Open a conversation with your child about cyberbullying and how to handle it if they experience it. You can start the conversation by asking if they have ever seen any kind of cyberbullying. Let your child tell you about the experience.
Be careful to not make the conversation sounds like an interrogation or that they’re already in trouble. Children are often afraid to confide in their parents for fear that their computer or internet access will be taken away if they do.
2. Keep The Family Computer In A Common Area
It’s much easier to monitor your child’s online usage when in a common area of the home. When it’s out in the open, it allows for less secret activity to happen.
3. Learn What Your Child Does Online
Simply ask your children what they do online, what sites they visit and who they do it with. Keeping an open dialogue about what they do online is important and will encourage your child to confide in you if there’s ever a problem.
4. Become Familiar With Social Media Sites
Become familiar and learn about all the different social media sites out there. An easy way to really come familiar with them is to create your own profiles. Try uploading pictures, making posts and even play the games your child plays. Ask your children to show you their profile pages periodically and friend/follow them on each network they have. Lastly and most importantly, don’t stop there. Be sure to keep up with new sites and be aware if your child is using them or not.
5. Discuss Rules & Time Limits
Discuss internet use rules, online safety and time limits. Tip: If you ask your child to contribute to the rules, they may be more inclined to follow the rules.
6. Teach Your Child Safe Online Behavior
Teach your child all about safe online behavior. Passwords, thinking before posting, stranger danger and keeping private information private are all very important safe behaviors to go over. Tip: You can make learning about safe online behavior fun too, like creating a quiz and awarding a prize for a perfect score.
7. Teach Your Child On How To Handle To Cyberbullying
Even if your child doesn’t think it can happen to them, a child can become a target of cyberbullying in a matter of seconds. Teach your child how to handle online bullying and to let you know about it as soon as it happens. Tell your children to not respond to any cyberbullying, but do not delete the messages either just in case the bullying escalates. You’ll need these messages to prove that the cyberbullying occurred.
If for whatever reason your child chooses not to share it with you, be sure to provide them with alternate sources of information like a binder or another family member that he or she can confide in.
8. Let Your Child Know You May Take Action
Let your child know if there’s reason for concern, that you might take action. It’s still your job as a parent to keep him or her safe. If there is a risk, it’s a good idea to monitor their online communication.
9. Be Available To Talk & Help Your Child
This is the most important part in stopping cyberbullying! Whether your child is the one who is bullying or is the target of cyberbullying, you want your child to feel comfortable enough to come to you if there ever is a problem. It’s important for your child to know that you’re there to make the situation better and keep him or her safe.
10. Don’t Overreact
If your child is being bullied online, it is important to be supportive and understanding of the problem. Be sure to find out how long it has been going on, work together to find a solution and keep the conversation open to through the problem. If the bullying escalates, it’s time to have a meeting with the school.
11. Don’t Underreact Either
Telling your children to ‘deal with it’ or responding with ‘kids will be kids’ attitude isn’t helpful. The emotional distress your child is going through is very real and can have long lasting effects. Still be supportive and understanding of their problem.
12. Don’t Threaten With Consequences
In the event that cyberbullying happens, do not threaten with consequences. Remember it’s a good thing that your child has come to you and you want him or her to continue to come to you with problems. Threatening to take away their computer or access to the internet will only make your child more secretive in the future.
13. Talk To Your Child’s School
If your child comes to you about cyberbullying involving kids from school, talk to the school’s guidance counselors. It’s important for them to be aware of the situation and can monitor the bullying situation at school.
14. Get Law Enforcement Involved If You Need To
If there are threats of violence or the cyberbullying continues to escalate, it’s time to get law enforcement involved. As the parent, use your best judgement. If you decide to get law enforcement involved, it’s important to save or screen capture and print out all the messages as proof of evidence.