According to Internet Safety 101, only 7% of parents in the United States are concerned about cyber bullying, even though at least 33% of teenagers have been bullied online or through other means of social media. What may be the reason behind all of this? Internet Safety 101 says that 81% of youth believe that bullying someone online is easier than bullying them in person. With the increase of advanced technologies, apps, social media outputs, and websites, it makes bullying incredibly easy. Back in the day (when movies were in black in white), if someone was bullied, it normally consisted of harsh words being lashed out at an innocent victim, some type of physical contact/violence between the kids, and lots of ignorance from friends, family, and teachers who didn’t have any idea of the victim’s experiences.
Although social media has positive aspects and wonderful opportunities for friendships to grow online, the cyber world, many times, is an outlet for bullying. The reasons parents are so unaware of bullying is because it all happens behind a screen on a device that they most likely don’t use or look at. So we need to change the first statistic. Why are only 7% of parents concerned about their children being cyber bullied? 100% of all parents should worry about what happens online with their kids! There are a few ways to help prevent cyber bullying from happening under the roof of our homes, and these tips will go a long way to protecting kids and teenagers from being bullied online.
1. Find out what websites your kids are using!
If you can manage to peek over their shoulder on their phone or flat out ask them what apps and social media sites they are using, this will go a long way to help stopping the bullying. By figuring out what websites they are engaged on and are interested in, you can do further research on those specific websites. Find out how private their profiles can be or what the website was created for the begin with. You can follow or be friends with your kids on certain sites or if you feel more comfortable asking another adult or friend to do so, that is fine as well. Just become aware of what your children are involved in and the websites that they use.
2. Set rules and time limits!
Technology these days have reached an extreme. People are texting and driving, texting and walking, texting in the shower, and it just DOESN’T STOP! In order to help prevent further damage and hurt to your kids, set boundaries when it comes to social media and online time! For some parents, this may mean turning the internet off every night at 11 so their kids are not up all night on their phones. For others, this may mean setting a restricted time online until they are responsible enough to know what is safe and what is not. There are ways you can block websites on your computer if it has come to that extreme. Your kids will not like it, that is for sure. But sometimes it is necessary in order to protect your kids.
3. Encourage them to be careful!
When concerning Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, your kids have the ability to follow or friend whomever they please. But this does not mean that others can follow or friend them. There is a privacy setting that allows your kids to approve or disapprove follow and friend requests. With these settings, others will not be able to see their pictures, profile, or information, if the settings are set correctly. Make sure all of your children’s social media accounts are the most secure that they can be. But even though their profile is protected, they still have the ability to follow and friend people who do not have private accounts. Make sure your kids are following people that they know. Many times, mutual friends or acquaintances are considered “friends” and your kids will want to follow them. This leads down a dangerous path, so be sure that your kids don’t follow random strangers, people, or mutual friends. Also encourage them to keep their passwords private and to not give them out to friends. The last thing you want is someone hacking into your kid’s account and writing or posting something inappropriate.
Of course, in the end, your kids will most likely not be happy with some of your rules or ideas. But remember that you want your kids to be safe from cyber bullying. It can be something as simple as a Facebook message or a mean tweet saying that someone isn’t good enough or that they aren’t beautiful enough that will trigger and stir trouble among teens. Keep a close eye on them. If you feel the need to ask them if they are being bullied, then by all means do so! Parents need to step up their game when it comes to social media problems. Parents need to help protect their kids from the emotional wreckage that can occur because of one small Facebook comment.