How to Prevent Cyberbullying?7 min read
Cyberbullying is a serious issue that has become very common in recent years. It has become a growing problem in online communities and many parents and teachers are extremely worried for their kids who are now spending more and more time on online platforms. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing everyone to stay at home and increasing online work and engagement, cyberbullying has greatly increased.
Even though schools are now introducing new and improved bullying prevention programs, the prevalence of cyberbullying continues. Since cyberbullying is a type of bullying, therefore its effects are similar to that of traditional bullying. However, where traditional bullying would stop after school ended since cyberbullying takes place on gadgets and electronic devices, there is basically no easy escape from online bullying. Gaming apps and various social media platforms are places where kids can get cyberbullied the most so parents and teachers need to be all the more careful and do whatever they can in order to prevent it.
Why is it important to prevent cyberbullying?
We’re pretty sure that no parent would want their child to be bullied and that they would try everything in their power to prevent it from happening. Cyberbullying is simply another type of bullying and as a parent, you should definitely be just as eager about preventing it in your child’s life as traditional bullying.
Cyberbullying takes place on electronic devices, gaming apps and social media platforms and it includes the aggressor repeatedly inflicting harm on the victim. Even though the harm inflicted is not physical, it can manifest itself as hate comments, hate accounts, online gossip and rumors, hurtful posts, text messages, and even extremely mean comments while gaming and on social media. Usually, the intention behind cyberbullying is to humiliate, intimidate, threaten, abuse or harass the victim.
Various research has shown that victims of cyberbullying can suffer a number of emotional, mental, academic and even physical consequences. It is not uncommon for kids who are cyberbullied to experience physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, physical ailments, skin conditions and so on. Cyberbullying only leaves young kids and teens feeling scared, lonely, embarrassed and hurt. It is also a major stressor in the lives of young people.
Kids’ self-esteem and self-worth can seriously get affected and even damaged. Sadly, cyberbullying can and has led to thoughts of self-harm and even suicide in many young people. Cyberbullying is a really pressing issue and there are a considerable number of risks associated with it. This is why it is so crucial that parents step in and take appropriate measures to prevent cyberbullying in their kids’ lives.
How can you prevent cyberbullying?
Let’s be honest, even though you are a parent, you will not be able to protect your child from every single thing that comes his way. Similarly, there is no way you can prevent your child from ever getting cyberbullied, but there are numerous things that you can do to significantly reduce the likelihood of it happening. Make sure you implement safety measures and have serious conversations with your kid about cyberbullying and its consequences. Talk to your child about using social media responsibly and what he should do if he is ever bullied online.
10 ways to prevent cyberbullying:
Make Sure You Establish a Climate of Communication with Your Child
Establishing a climate of communication with your child is extremely crucial. Don’t just hope that your child will come to you if he wants to talk about something because there will be many instances where your child might not necessarily feel comfortable sharing certain things with you if you have not cultivated that all-important climate of communication. Having this climate of communication with your child is necessary to have healthy and open conversations.
Understand Apps and Platforms
As a parent, pay attention to the different apps and platforms that your child uses. Don’t avoid social media and gadgets because you feel like they’re challenging for you to use. Instead, do your little research on the various apps that your child downloads and/or wants to download. Understand how individual platforms function and keep your child away from anything that is not age appropriate for him.
Protect Devices and Accounts
Make sure that your child has passwords on every account and device. Talk to your kids about the importance of having strong passwords and warn them to not share any of this important information with friends – no matter how close they consider them to be. It is important that your child does not share any of his passwords with anyone but you.
Always Log Out When Using Public Devices
Ask your child to be cautious every time he uses public laptops, computers and other devices. Remind your child to always log out of whichever accounts he uses. Just closing the tab is not enough. If someone else gets access and control of your child’s accounts, they can easily change passwords and wreak havoc on your kid’s social media and other apps.
Use Privacy Tools and Settings
Almost every social media platform and app have privacy settings. Go through these privacy settings with your child and make sure you set your child’s account to the most secure settings. This might include making the account private, requiring others to ask for permission before sharing your photos and posts and so on. Your child needs to be aware of all the privacy tools and settings offered by different platforms and use them.
Teach your Child to Think Before Posting
Help your kids, tweens or teens to be careful of what they post. Ask them to take some time and reflect before posting anything. Your child needs to properly decide on whether they really want to post what they are going to because he should not regret it later on. Cyberbullies can take things that your child posts and use them against him. Help your child to think about whether he would want to say and show certain things publicly. Warn your child that if he cannot use social media responsibly then you will not hesitate to take it away.
Keep Everything Personal Private
Tell your kids to never share their personal address, email address, phone numbers online. They should also be mindful of what information they share in school because there may be other students that follow them on social media that they don’t know well. Also, remind your kids that online personas can be deceiving. People can hide behind screens and pretend to be someone else and do wrong things. Your teen can’t trust everything he sees online.
Conduct Regular Social Media Checks
Have regular social media audits. Sit down with your child every month or a few times every month and go through his social media accounts. Check for anything new that your child has been up to without your knowledge. Together with your child, determine which posts, photos and other data can be deleted or hidden from the public eye. Make sure that your teen’s accounts are giving out the message and information that they want others to receive.
Don’t Respond to Cyberbullies
Be very careful to explain to your child that he does not need to respond to cyberbullies if he ever encounters them. Your child should be very mindful not to argue, try to explain or engage with a cyberbully in any way. Cyberbullies are usually just looking for attention and emotional responses. However, if your child simply refuses to give them what they are looking for, then the cyberbully has nothing to go on but one-sided conversations. While this happens, do take screenshots and screen recordings of any harassment whatsoever and save it. This will serve as proof for when you want to report a cyberbully.
Teach your child to always report cyberbullying no matter what. This means telling you about what is happening. Also, let the social media platform, internet service provider and any other necessary parties know. If you need to contact the school and/or local police, don’t hesitate to do it. After filling all the required reports, make sure to block the bully or the account from wherever your child was getting harassed.
Additionally, teach your kids and teens to stand up for other people who are being cyberbullied. If your child witnesses someone getting cyberbullied, he should not try to be a party to the bullying but rather support the victim and report the happenings to a responsible adult.