One of the dangers children face today can happen in their own home. Cyberbullying is a real issue with sometimes deadly consequences. Even if you think your child isn’t experiencing cyberbullying, it’s important to know the signs.
Prevention and Spotting
Prevent cyberbullying by making sure your child knows what it is. It takes many forms, including name-calling, blackmail, or threats. Teach your kids how to treat others, in person and online, and never use hurtful language. If they know how to act, they will know how they should be treated. Make it clear to your child that they can come to you about anything and that you will understand. Most importantly, stay calm. If a child fears how you will react, they may not share their experiences with you.
Make sure they never give personal information online. If you can instill a sense of self-confidence in them, they may be less susceptible to bullying. Teach them to ignore and report any bullying that does happen. Pay attention to your child’s behavior, especially after they spend time online. Do they appear stressed when they get an instant message? If they have a sudden change in their emotional state and exhibit signs of depression or anger, if they begin to have difficulty sleeping or their grades slip at school, it might be time to investigate if they have been bullied.
How to Address the Issue
One of the best things you can do for your child is to have open and honest communication. Build up your relationship and never threaten them. Taking away a computer or digital device won’t solve the problem, and may simply hurt your child. If they are suffering from cyberbullying, it will be hard for them to speak about it, no matter what. It cannot be stressed enough that you need to be a source of safety and calm for your child. If they do come to you, don’t react with anger. Instead, try to formulate a response with them. Do you need to adjust the settings on your browser, to make sure that this person cannot contact them? Can you identify who is responsible? If you can, it may be the best solution to go to their school or parents, as that child needs to understand why their actions are damaging. Reassure your child of their worth and the love you have for them. The most important thing to do is support them during this time.
Peer Pressure on Social Media
One insidious aspect of social media is peer pressure. The best way your child can overcome it is by having a strong sense of self, and knowing what is right and wrong. Encourage your child to associate with kids who share similar values and help build their confidence, so they can say no to others. Again, threatening your children will only drive them away from you and may make them more likely to engage in risky behavior. Instead, spend time with them and model your best behavior. Don’t just tell them not to do things such as drink alcohol, but explain your reasoning behind your rules. If they understand the “why,” they may be more likely to stand up for themselves and their health.
Make Social Media Positive
In today’s society, being online is inescapable. Social media does not have to only be a threat. There are many ways it can be a positive force. Take precautions by limiting your child’s time on the Internet, make sure they are not following risky figures and show them how to connect with positive role models. Social media can educate about many subjects and cultures. It can fuel creativity and inspire your child in different ways. Being online can help your child develop technical and interpersonal skills, all while nurturing a sense of independence.
Be cautious online. Teach your children about the negatives and positives of engaging with others on the Internet. If you nurture them and establish trust between both of you, your child may be more likely to overcome bullying and develop the confidence they need to grow.