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I already worry about it – keeping our kids Safe from Cyber Bullies. I will definitely do my little e-mail hack, but the rest is still there, just waiting.
My brother is a Vice Principal at a local school and has worked as a VP at another high school, as well. He has told me just how awful cyber bullying is now. He said that I wouldn’t believe it, until I saw it. It crushes me to think that kids are so mean to other kids. I just don’t get it. I LOVED school! I really did. I loved having friends and being with my friends during school. I couldn’t imagine how much different my upbringing would have been if social media was a thing. I’m glad that I was raised then, but I worry about our kid’s futures. I will delay their online presence as long as I can, that’s for sure!
The problem with Cyber bullying is that it has the potential to involved thousands of people as the audience, making it so much harder for the victim. There was a teenager that lived not far from us that was bullied last year. She took her own life because of it. I just can’t forget that. I won’t let myself forget it, because it means that the potential is there for our four children, but I will do whatever I can to minimize their chances of being bullied and I will give them the tools to defend themselves.
Harassment through technology means that it is easier than the conventional ways of bullying, and more kids are at stake because the web is easily accessible to most children today. To keep your kids completely safe from this form of harassment, you must understand cyber bullying, its impact on a child’s personality, and the methods of preventing it. Lets dive in…
1. Identifying Cyber Bullying.
Cyber bullying encompasses all acts of harassment and torture that are done using social networking sites, emails and sources. However, the victim feels the same amount of torment and shame that would result from conventional bullying. Anything ranging from a bully attack on a social media website to a serious identity hacking crime falls within the capacity of cyber bullying. Kids are altering other kid’s images and posting it. They are sending private messages and they are sending group messages. They are stealing passwords and other personal content, and uploading forged or inappropriate images of other kids. Note that cyber bullying, hacking, and online identity theft are crimes punishable by law, but victims are often too afraid to reveal they are being tortured.
2. The Damages Done by Cyber Harassment is REAL.
Sometimes, the result of cyber harassment can be way more disastrous than conventional harassment, especially if the crime goes viral and is witnessed by thousands of internet or cell phone users.
Apart from social defamation, kids who are victims of cyber bullying suffer from anxiety, depression, shame, anger, fear, and bouts of low self-esteem. Some cases can be serious enough to lead to suicidal thoughts; victims of bullying are two to nine times more likely to commit suicide. Cyber bullying can also damage a child’s ability to learn and achieve academic goals, and his overall career. Nine times more likely- that’s huge. That’s scary. That’s horrendous. That’s enough to make us stop and think… right?!
3. Lets prevent it.
The most foolproof method to avoid cyber bullying is to make the use of computer and smart phones a non-personal thing. Try keeping the computer in the living area and ask your child to use smart phones in your presence. Set age filters, set programs that let you see every virtual footstep that they take online and use software to limit their internet access.
I was at a conference not long ago, where they talked about putting a monitoring feature on every computer and device that you have. They said that if your child argues… its easy- take their device away. They don’t need to have access to it. They are children. The parental control Android even has the world’s first Facebook monitoring feature, allowing parents to spot and resolve cyberbullying before it gets worse. Some solutions offer a real-time dashboard that enables parents to keep informed of the web usage habits of their children.
You also need to know that it is essential to keep track of all apps installed on devices of children. You might want to keep the password to yourself (I do this on our 8 year old’s iPod). He has to come to me if he wants anything added.
4. Charge it where YOU can see it.
Yes, our kids are young. Our oldest is only 8, but we made a rule when he got his iPod and we plan to keep it. You may ONLY charge it where we can see it! It is never allowed to be charged in your room at night. We started this so that when our kids were teenagers, it would come as no surprise that we keep the iPods at night. When we go to bed, we take them with us and we charge them. They know, already, that this is the time when we will have access to them, so if their friends write to them, we will see it. If they get pictures, we get them, too. We set up this rule because we did not want our kids having access to their phones all night long. I didn’t want a text waking them up at 3:00 am or getting calls from friends that are too late.
When I was young, we talked in the kitchen, using the phone that was tethered to the wall. Everyone knew what was going on and who you were talking to.
5. Talk to your kids.
Children and teenagers are mostly reluctant to inform their parents or an elder about cyber abuse. You can counter any ongoing act of cyber bullying by identifying certain habits in your children. If they act frustrated or sad (especially after using the internet), hide their online activities, withdraw from family activities, and undergo an academic decline, then you must take action! Talk to them, sit with them and just listen – really listen.