6 Concepts to Teach Your Child to be an Upstander

Dec 20, 2016

As parents, our job is to teach our children to be upstanding citizens, modeling the behavior we wish to see our children exhibit. From a technological standpoint, responsible digital citizenship is a parent’s job to teach, and it extends far beyond simple Internet etiquette. An integral lesson of digital citizenship is understanding what an upstander is, and continually working towards being an upstander.

Do unto others
I raise my son by the Golden Rule, and while he’s still very young, the Golden Rule applies to his dealings with others, both virtually and in-person. Being an upstander goes beyond the old, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” phrase, it’s about behaving in a righteous way, no matter the actions of others.

If I were to ask you to name all of the different ways children are cyberbullied, could you? Educate yourself about cyberbullying, and its many forms, and teach your child how to handle cyberbullying situations, as both a target and an innocent bystander. The best way to prevent cyberbullying is to be armed with knowledge.

Don’t engage
If you want to stop cyberbullying, teach your child to refuse to take part in it. That inappropriate photo of a classmate, being passed around via text message, ends up in your child’s inbox; how will your child respond?

We all want our children to respond to receiving an inappropriate photograph of a classmate, by reporting it to us or another adult. But what if they don’t receive the photo themselves, and is instead shared with them by a classmate? Will your child respond by reporting the photograph? An upstander reports any type of bullying behavior to the appropriate authority, whether or not the perpetrator and/ or victim is his friend. Upstanders aim to prevent and even stop cyberbullying by doing the right thing.

Upstanders try to influence their peers to do the right thing. That picture that’s making rounds? Well, an upstander would attempt to convince her friend to report it, and the person who sent it to them. Teach your child to model upstanding behavior for others, in an effort to influence their peers to do the right thing.

Embrace differences
Perhaps one of the greatest ways to prevent cyberbullying is by teaching our children to embrace people’s differences and to make friends outside of their immediate circle. I often share my own story of being “label-less”. I was never so aware of my status as “uncategorized” as I was at my sixteenth birthday party. Looking down at my backyard from our second story deck, all I could see were tiny clusters of people scattered around the yard. As an academic, athlete, musician, and devout teen, my friends were from different high schools, different grades, and different cliques. I was not easily molded, and I hope my son is the same. Teaching our children to befriend and embrace all different types of people helps us raise socially responsible young adults.