Bullies come in all shapes and sizes and now they appear electronically as well. Cyber bullying is becoming an increasingly common problem among children and teens. This is any type of bullying that takes place using technology such as email, social media networks, text messages, websites and more.
Before technology was available in every home, children could escape the school yard bully when the school day was over. Now, that bully follows them wherever they go, can find them day or night and can bully your child in front of a large online audience. Additionally, cyber bullies can bully individuals anonymously. Your children may not even know who the bully is that continually taunts them.
If your child is a victim of cyber bullying or your think your child may be a bully, there are several things you can do to prevent this type of behavior from affecting your child.
Consider filters on all electronics
There are filters and parental controls available for all types of electronics including computers, tablets and smartphones. These filters allow you to view past activity of your children. They send alerts letting you know if children have searched inappropriate material and they let you block certain websites. Additionally, many of these filters allow you to set certain times when the device can be accessed. This prevents children and teens from using their electronics during school or late hours of the night when parental supervision is not available.
Stay current with the latest social sites and technology
There are new social websites making their appearance all the time. Many children and teens are turning to these new and less well-known sites where little parental and adult supervision is available. Additionally, teens are creating and finding new apps that parents may not be aware of. As a parent, research the new technology that is popular among children and teens. Learn about new social sites and research new apps that hit the marketplace. Also, constantly monitor your computer's history and your child's smartphone use and familiarize yourself with the sites your child visits and the apps they download and use.
Set and enforce rules
As a parent, it is important that you have rules for your family's electronics. These rules can include things like only using the computer in an open room and not behind a closed door. It can also be that no cell phones can be used after 10 p.m. or that mom must be accepted as a friend on all social networks. By implementing rules into your family's computer use, you can keep your children accountable and it helps you keep a closer watch on any type of cyber bullying issue that may arise.
Teach your children online etiquette
Just like children learn proper phone manners while young, children need to learn proper online etiquette. Teach your children how to communicate with other individuals though text messages and email. Teach them what are appropriate pictures to post and what are not. Help your children understand that what they post online does not disappear. It can be accessed and used against them.
Cyber bullying is a real problem. It is a way that children can hurt one another without being physical and without exposing their identity. Talk to your children about cyber bullying and discover if it is a problem in your child's life. As a parent, it is your job to protect your child. Technology has made it possible for bullies to get inside your home and harm those you love most.