Only those who have been victims of bullying will know how it can have a devastating effect on a young person’s character. Bullying is everywhere – in schools, the workplace and on social media.
Bullying on social media is becoming an epidemic and shouldn’t be tolerated. As parents, it is important to recognize when your child is the attacker or the victim. We look at ways you can help your kids through their cyberbullying crisis.
Talk about it
Most important is to encourage open channels of communication between you and your kids. They must always know that you’re there for them, come what may. Cyberbullies thrive on intimidation tactics – insulting and putting a child down and even making hints of threats.
Remind your child that you are the adult. It can bring a tremendous amount of calm and peace to a child to know that you are there to stand up for them and protect them. Your child has seen you in action before and can expect you to respond to the bully in an empowered, calm way.
It is essential for a parent to take immediate steps to stop cyberbullying. The use of spy phone app is a good idea as the software allows you to monitor a child’s instant messages and internet usage. These apps aren’t all the same but the spy app offers super features to protect your kids and track their location.
Parents, for instance, can also check out their kids WhatsApp activities and see if there are bullying messages and protect them from sexting. You may need to access your child’s mobile device to monitor and get reports and set limits from your device. You can then keep messages as evidence.
Keep your child involved
Once your child has communicated to you that they are involved in bullying, keep your child involved and don’t handle everything yourself. Cyberbullying includes intimidation, loss of confidence and loss of dignity, too, and you want to involve your child in finding a solution.
Cyberbullying is usually connected to school life and kids understand their particular school situation better than you. Their knowledge and perspective is important to getting to the bottom of the situation and working towards a solution, even if it means a visit to your child’s teacher or the headmaster or mistress. Keep your child posted on what you’re doing.
Never disclose your real name online
A stranger online that you can’t see or hear as such should never get hold of your child’s personal information. Your child should never reveal their password to anyone online, either. A password is a good guarantee of safety online. If an online ‘friend’ asks for this information, tell your kids to turn it down.
If your child wants to have a name online, let them use a neutral pseudonym for any online chatting. You can use a name such as ‘Zebra’ as an example because then you won’t give away your gender. Your kids should also avoid mentioning their age or gender.
Avoid questionnaires and profiles
There are some websites geared towards kids and teens and they warmly invite them to sign up and join the club. They always encourage kids to reveal more about themselves when they log into these sites for the first time. Maybe they have to make a profile of themselves and give the name, age, gender, likes and dislikes.
The Internet is becoming increasingly dangerous for young people whose online profiles can attract aggressive sexual predators. There is no doubt that personal information posted online can lead to sexual exploitation of children as offenders find new ways to network with other offenders and children.