Bullying isn’t new, but the internet and text messaging has taken it to a whole new level. It might not be throwing a punch on the playground, but cyberbullying, or online name-calling, can have serious emotional consequences. In fact, Cyberbullying is extremely dangerous and can cause anxiety and depression. In rare cases, it has even led to suicide.
As a parent, what can you do?
Since most teens are connected to the internet, chatting or sending text messages all day, it’s not always possible to monitor every interaction. It is possible, however, to take steps to ensure your teen is neither a victim or an agressor.
Steps to Stopping Cyber Bullies
Talk to your teen. Explain your concern and ask them to voice their own. Encourage empathy toward others, whether in person or over the internet. Let them know they can trust you and you will work with them to solve the problem.
Limit access to technology. Place computers in a central location in the house and limit cell phone use. If your teen is secretive about internet use, that should be a red flag. Parental controls on computers, web tablets and even phones help keep kids safe.
Find out where your child hangs out online. Just as you would want to know what movie your child is seeing, you need to see which websites and chatrooms they frequent. Check their browser history.
Teach teens to protect themselves. Explain that they should never give out personal information online, and never tell anyone their password, even friends. Never post anything online you wouldn’t want someone else to see.
Block the bully. If your child complains that someone is intentionally saying mean things to them online, you can electronically block that person from sending messages.
- Enforce consequences. If you suspect your child is the bully, immediately remove their access. Insist that teens act on the internet just you would require them to act in person.
Technology is a privilege, not a right.
Riley Hospital at Indiana University provides additional information in their publication "Riley Speaks".
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