Mar 28, 2016

Sad kid sitting in front of brick wall with head on their knees

Although bullying has been a long-lasting problem, cyber bullying has become a big issue in the last few years, and it can be even more harmful. Unlike bullying, cyber bullying doesn’t stop when children come home. It can happen all hours of the day, every day of the week. If your child has a cell phone or social media account, they are susceptible to cyber bullying.

Often times, kids won’t talk to their parents or guardians about being cyber bullied. So how can we know if they are being bullied online? Look for telltale signs such as depression, anxiety and stress, loss of interest in school, or dropping grades.

Fortunately, you don’t have to take away your child’s cell phone or Internet access in order to protect him or her. As parents, we play a big role in preventing and helping cyber bullying. We’ve come up with a list of the top five ways parents can help prevent and protect kids from being cyber bullied.

1. Don’t let the wrong information get into the wrong hands.
Your child may intend to share with close friends and family but if their profiles aren’t private, then others can use the information maliciously. Facebook and Instagram, and other social media sites have the ability to adjust settings to private. Go through profiles with your child and make sure each of their profiles are private, so not just anyone can look at all the details of their lives.

2. Passwords MUST be confidential
Teach your child to NEVER share their passwords – even with their closest friends. Many of the cyber bullying cases are due to friends (or ex-friends) using someone else’s account to post explicit or embarrassing content.

3. Invest in protective software
As a parent, it can be overwhelming trying to protect your child by yourself. Parental controls, such as Net Nanny Social, make it easier to watch for signs. Net Nanny Social has a language detection feature, gives parents access to view photos and videos posted by their child, and sends notifications to parents when harmful activities are detected.

4. Keep personal things personal
Cyber bullies will use any information they can to hurt someone else’s reputation. Teach your child to think before they post pictures and content. Teach them not to post anything embarrassing or personal that could be used against them.

5. Know what’s on your child’s mind
Have an open conversation and decide with your child when and where they can have access to the Internet. Let them know that they can talk to you if they are ever in a harmful situation.

Mara Hooker