If you’re the parent of a teenager or soon-to-be adolescent, then you’ve no doubt heard the horror stories about cyberbullying. This type of online abuse has caused irreparable emotional damage for many a child and has even driven some young people to do the unthinkable by taking their own lives. News of these tragic events has compelled many parents to restrict their tween or teen from participating in online activities altogether. Luckily, there are alternatives that will allow your child to benefit from the entertainment and educational resources the Internet has to offer without exposing them to potential harm.
Before you take any drastic measures, consider these five practical tips for protecting your child from cyberbullying.
The first step in ensuring that your child is safe from the threat of cyberbullying is to educate both yourself and your child of the dangers online. Discuss with your child exactly what cyberbullying is, and let him or her know that it is not okay under any circumstances. Emphasize that whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of the bullying that teasing or embarrassing someone online is never acceptable behavior.
In addition to addressing the definition of cyberbullying, you will also need to discuss safe Internet behavior such as visiting only trusted websites (or those you have deemed appropriate as a family) as well as avoiding conversations with strangers. Be prepared to point your youngster to some fun websites that are perfectly safe as well. After all, you don’t want to send the message that the Internet is a bad place altogether. The idea is to show your child that the web is a tool, and the end result (whether bad or good) depends on how you choose to use it.
Another great way to keep your child safe from cyberbullies is to roll up your sleeves and jump right in there with him. If your child opens an account on Facebook, or another social network, for instance, make it a point to open an account and “friend” your child. That way, you can see many of his activities such as who he interacts with and what other “friends” post on his wall.
The initial discussion that you have with your child about cyberbullying and appropriate Internet use should not be the last; in fact, it should be one of many more to come. Make an effort to ask your tween or teen about his online activities on a regular basis. Ask what games he’s been playing and who (if anyone) he’s been chatting with. Try to be conversational, not pushy, so that your child will feel comfortable opening up to you. Look for signs of distress, and remind your child that he can always come to you or another trusted adult if he ever encounters an uncomfortable situation online.
It’s always a good idea to monitor your child’s online usage by making her computer time a public rather than private activity. Refrain from putting a personal computer in your child’s bedroom, and if she has a laptop, encourage her to use it in a common area such as the living room or the dining room.
The reality is that no matter how much you talk to your child, participate alongside him, or monitor his activities, you cannot possibly be there for every minute that your tween or teen has access to the Internet. That’s why it’s a good idea to provide an extra degree of security by installing a software program or Internet monitoring app on every computer that your child has access to. Such a program can ensure that all of your child’s interactions online are continuously monitored and recorded so that you can intervene if necessary.
Your child’s reputation and safety are important. Provide a secure online experience for your child by visiting Qustodio.com and downloading our free parental control app today.