Today, Kevin Outland continues to tackle this month's theme: "What Do I Do When...?!?", by looking at the issue of cyberbullying. As Kevin recommends, it's critical as parents that we are "On The Look-Out for Cyberbullying."
On the Look-Out for Cyber-Bullying
Cyber-Bulling is an ever-increasing problem for our kids and it’s having devastating consequences like suicide and self-harm. Yale University researchers, after reviewing studies done in 13 countries, found that victims of bullying were 2 to 9 times more likely to report suicidal thoughts than other children. Some parents think cyber-bulling is just the online version of the bullying that happened at school when they were kids but it’s not. Cyber-bullying follows kids home from school. Between their cell phone and home computer kids can now be bullied 24/7 if front of thousands of kids online. Being harassed by one kid at school is bad enough but being harassed an embarrassed in front of your whole school online is something else entirely.
Parents, you need to know the risks your kids are facing in this area. Here are some important stats:
- 43% of teens have been harassed online
- 90% of middle school students have had their feelings hurt online
- Girls are twice as likely as boys to be the victims of cyber-bullying and the perpetrators
- Teens using social networking sites, like Facebook, are almost twice as likely to be
victims of cyber-bullying than those that don’t
So how do you protect your kids? First, you need to talk with your children about cyber-bullying (what it is and the dangers) and layout the rules for appropriate Internet usage. Second, you need to start monitoring your kids are doing online. You can do this in person by just ask what they’re doing online and with software, like SafeEyes, that can record chat conversations, monitor social networking activities and email. Third, you can also be friends with your kids on social media sites like Facebook. This will give you a great view into their online world. Fourth, look for potential warning signs (are they’re withdrawn? - are obsessed with their use of their computer or cell phone? - are depressed?). These signs could indicate your child is a victim or perpetrator of cyber-bullying. None of these steps are a silver bullet that will solve all cyber-bullying but it’s a place to start and an opportunity to engage with your kids.
A poll said that parents were not doing enough to prevent bullying. Maybe it’s because they didn’t know how. Well now you do.
Editor's Note: Also make sure you check out our parent resource on Cyberbullying here.