Keep Your Child Healthy and Active Over Summer Break
by Dan Reiner
Most of us are familiar with the stereotypical schoolyard bully, but bullies don’t limit themselves just to school playgrounds. With the growth in online communications, cyberbullies can now use email, text messaging, chat rooms, and other online forums to harass others. Has your child been subjected to cyberbullying? If so, would he or she tell you about it?
Cyberbullying affects everyone—the victim, the bully, and even bystanders. Oftentimes it’s difficult for children to talk about it or ask for help. That’s why it is important to know what to do if you suspect cyberbullying.
It’s hard to imagine that your child can be bullied without the bully being physically present. However, written words can have damaging effects. It is important that you and your child recognize and ultimately avoid the signs of cyberbullying.
Bullies use text messaging to harass victims from a distance. The bully may even copy his or her entire address book to spread rumors or embarrassing images.
Online forums such as bulletin boards, chat rooms, and social networking sites are used to publicize disparaging comments and humiliate the target. Some cyberbullies even build websites dedicated to tormenting the targeted individual. The information we’ve gathered below can help you equip your kids to navigate safely in most online situations.
A child’s psyche is fragile during the early childhood and adolescent years, and a direct attack from a cyberbully can have disastrous effects. Here are some guidelines to help stop the cyberbully:
It’s vital to teach your kids cyber-safe techniques to make things difficult for a cyberbully. Remind children not to give out personal information online. Encourage your child to avoid exchanging email addresses or phone numbers with anyone online without your permission. A bully has a hard time targeting your child if he or she doesn’t have any ammunition.
If you allow your child to use social networking sites like Facebook, learn about safety tips provided by the site. Always double-check your child’s privacy settings so only people in his or her contact list can send a message, call, or send an instant message (IM). Monitor your kids’ online interactions. Common Sense Media makes it easy with concrete, age-appropriate advice. Visit http://www.commonsensemedia.org/cyberbullying for more information.
Have your child delete messages from people he or she doesn’t know or that seem angry or mean. Bullying can’t occur if it’s not allowed to start. Tell your kids to use their instincts while on the internet and immediately end any interaction that seems suspicious. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.
One of the best defenses against cyberbullying is using netiquette—that is, etiquette on the internet. Some netiquette tips to discuss with your child are as follows:
When communicating online, the person on the other end of the conversation doesn’t have the benefit of visual cues, such as facial expressions, to help interpret the intended meaning. Consider these tips to help ensure that you’re understood:
Taking action to raise cyberbullying awareness and awareness of internet safety is the best way you can help your family navigate the online world safely. We hope you will use this information to talk to your kids about cyberbullying—and to keep the dialogue going!
To learn how you can educate your child at home and be more involved in your child’s learning through online public school, visit the Connections Academy website. Or to learn about online private school, visit Pearson Online Academy ’s website.