In the generation of technology, parents and guardians should be hyper-aware of their children’s use of social media. With the increase of social media, we have discovered a new way of bullying. There are ways we can help to prevent social media bullying and teach our children ways to be safe online.
Tips for Parents
1. Create cyber rules with your children.
This should include how much time can be spent online, where computers and laptops can be used in the house, and what sites/social media your child uses. By including your child in this process, they feel a sense of ownership and are more likely to follow these rules.
2. Be aware of the sites your child is on.
Learn how to use the sites and become familiar with how they work.
3. Ask to “friend” or “follow” your child on social media.
This may cause some backlash, but discuss with your child that this is to make sure they are being safe on the internet.
4. Teach your children how to be safe online.
Explain to them what should be shared online and with who. Many online accounts can be made private so only your “friends” can see what you post. Accounts left set up as “public” can be viewed by anyone online. Explain to your child that once something is posted online, it is online forever. Even if something is deleted, it may still be found online somewhere.
5. Tell your child not to respond and not to delete anything.
If your child is being cyber bullied, they need to know to not delete any evidence. Tell them to keep everything that is sent to them so you can prove that the bullying is occurring. Your child should also not retaliate to the bullying for this could make it worse.
6. Don’t blame your child.
If your child is being bullied, make sure to be supportive. Your child will need to be reassured that this is not their fault and that you will be there to help them.
7. Be available for your child to talk to and encourage them to talk to you immediately if they or someone they know is being cyber bullied.
Make sure your child is aware that they can come to you to discuss things that happen online. Your child should be confident in coming to you if there is a problem. Let them know that they will not get in trouble for bringing a problem to you if they need help.
Tips for Kids
1. If you are being cyber bullied, immediately tell an adult.
An adult you trust will help you with the situation. Do not ignore what is happening. What they are doing is wrong and they could be bullying others as well.
2. Keep any evidence.
Keep any messages, comments, or texts a cyber bully sends. You can screenshot these and print them out for evidence to prove that cyber bullying is happening.
3. Don’t respond to cyber bullies.
Show an adult what is happening and be open to talk about it. Do not try to solve the problem on your own as this could make the problem bigger.
4. Be a friend.
Don’t forward any messages that could be hurtful to someone else. If you see something, tell an adult. The best way to prevent cyber bullying is stopping it when you see it happening.
Stephanie Moore, Speech Language Pathology Intern