It’s not always easy to talk to your kids about cyberbullying, but it is important. Cyberbullying can have serious detrimental effects on your child’s mental and emotional well-being, and their social life. It can also be connected to physical bullying. And in some cases, cyberbullying has been linked to self-harm or suicide in teens. Talking to your children about cyberbullying can help prevent or minimize its harmful effects. Here are some tips for getting the cyberbullying conversation started with your teen.
Computers and mobile devices are becoming part of children’s lives earlier and earlier. Cyberbullying can start when your child is as young as 8 or 9. Keep in mind that your child doesn’t have to have their own device to be a target of cyberbullying — bullies can share web posts, photographs, and messages with your child’s friends and peers, whether or not your child can see them online. The harassment can easily start online and continue offline.
That means that waiting until your child is in middle or high school, or waiting until they have their own computer or cell phone, may be waiting too long. If your child’s friends and schoolmates are using computers, then it’s probably time to have a talk with your child.
Talk About How to Respond
It’s important to be sure that your child knows how to react when they experience cyberbullying. Like most bullies, cyberbullies are really looking for a reaction, so let your child know not to give it to them. It’s best not to respond or try to retaliate, as that only lets the bully know that their tactics had the desired effect.
Instead, encourage your child to tell an adult as soon as the bullying begins. Many children avoid reporting bullying out of embarrassment or fear that getting adults involved will lead to an escalation of the bullying. However, a quick intervention by a parent or school official could stop the bullying before it gets out of hand. A guidance counselor can also be alerted to help keep an eye on your child and help them deal with their feelings as well as any social problems they may experience due to the bullying.
Show Your Child How To Protect Themselves
In addition to telling an adult, your children should know how to protect themselves online. Teach your child to always keep personal information private online — they shouldn’t reveal their location, real name, or other sensitive information to strangers, for example. Make sure that they know how to block a user that harasses them on email or social media.
If your child is experiencing cyberbullying, they can also report it to the social media site where it occurs, as well as to their internet service provider. Help them learn how to report cyberbullying properly, and encourage them to do so when appropriate.
Parental monitoring software can help you keep an eye on your child’s online activity, so that you will know if you need to take steps to help them deal with a cyberbully. Contact us to get our free trial.