A proactive measure of preventing cyberbullying is often overlooked. However, parents and carers can do more to educate the younger ones who are more susceptible to being bullied online.
According to a research published in the Journal of Medicine Internet Research JMIR, victims of cyberbullying under the age of 25, are more than twice susceptible to self-harm and suicidal behaviour.
Further findings by the cyberbullying inquiry report assert that children who are experiencing a mental health problem are over three times more likely to have been bullied online.
As a parent or guardian, this should be a cause for concern as the developmental years of a person are the most crucial period in his/her lifetime.
In this article, we have put together five important tips to prevent your kids from cyberbullying and ensure internet safety.
1. Build the Right Awareness and Teach Them to Communicate
The first thing you should do as a parent is to educate your child on cyberbullying and encourage them to report any form of abuse. Let them understand what it means, and what constitutes cyberbullying. In doing so, they can spot a bully before becoming a victim. Also, they can respond appropriately by reporting to you if they experience cyberbullying.
A child who is aware and knowledgeable on the subject matter is less likely to suffer from the impacts of cyberbullying.
2. Monitor Your Child’s Online Activity
As we all know, the internet is the new world, only that it is a virtual world. Impliedly, almost every activity that takes place in the real world happens in the virtual world; from shopping to stealing and even bullying. So the same duty of care you owe your child offline should be extended online.
A recent study by the University of British Columbia shows that cyberbullying is more devastating and much more frequent than offline/traditional bullying.
Always check their computers, know what they do online and with whom they communicate. Do not get too busy to monitor your child’s online activities; the implications could be devastating.
It is strongly advised that you make use of monitoring tools and parental control software to ensure their safety. Do not let them on social media if they are not yet thirteen.
3. Set Limits and Boundaries
Limit your child’s frequency on social media and the internet. A study by Rochester Institute of Technology shows that the more time a child spends online, the more likely he is to get cyberbullied.
4. Ensure that they Don’t Compromise Their Privacy
Teach your kids not to share sensitive information and passwords with friends or strangers online. Let them know the implications of sharing personal and private stuff online, which includes blackmail and extortion. Also, teach them to set strong and unique passwords for their social media accounts to prevent hacking.
5. Be Sensitive to Behavioural Change
Always watch your kids for any behavioural change and take appropriate actions immediately. Kids may sometimes not see the need to report a case of cyberbullying because of fear of backlash, shame or threats.
Research has it that only 1 in 10 teenage victims are willing to inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse. However, there could be other telling signs which may include depression, reclusion or unusual silence.
In a bid to protect our kids against cyberbullying, let us also help protect other kids from cyberbullying by educating our children to use the internet responsibly and practice the correct Netiquettes.