For all its good, the internet has also provided a global communication network for faceless individuals to provoke, harass, and intimidate others in ways that many would never dream of attempting in person. Cyber Bullying has become part of the modern world. Unfortunately, most teenagers enter the internet unprepared to handle the negativity and potential danger caused by these cyber bullies.
However, not having access to social media can be a source of bullying as well; your child may be harassed by peers and experience stress over the fear of missing out if they are kept away from all online peer contact.
While your gut reaction as a parent may be to try to prevent your child from logging on to the internet entirely, there are much more effective ways you can help your teen deal with cyber bullying.
Become the gatekeeper to social media
The majority of cyber bullying on the internet happens through social media. As your teenagers begin to develop their online presence, make a point to be a part of setting up their accounts. Discuss the importance of privacy settings and be sure they know how to block harassing users.
Make it a rule that you are to be their unrestricted “friend” in any social media they use as well as maintain updated password information at all times. This will help keep you aware of who is reaching out to your child and if your child, themselves, is starting to become a cyber-bully.
Most teens are digital natives and will likely try to push the envelope on limits you impose assuming you don’t know as much as they do (and they may be right). Stay current with social media sites’ updates and be sure to be checking in on your child’s profiles regularly.
Use phone and software features to keep track of the sites your child frequents to see if new hot-spots emerge. You may need to routinely check that you aren’t being sheltered from their full online presence or an undisclosed social media membership.
Respond to incidents of cyber bullying appropriately
If and when your teen is bullied online, there are some key steps that should be taken to ensure the problem doesn’t escalate. Make it a point to share these rules with your teen and an expectation that, should they be bullied, they should be sharing that information with you so that you can support them.
- Do not respond!
- Save a record of the event by printing or taking a screenshot
- Use the site’s reporting mechanisms to report the user
- Block the user
- Report the incident to school or police with a formal complaint
The key thing to remember with any bully is that they are coming from a place of insecurity and a desire for attention. By taking away both their voice and the attention they crave, you remove the motivation for the harassment to continue.
What advice do you have to help prevent or respond to cyber bullying? Share your experiences or advice in the comments below!