By now, cyberbullying is something every parent needs to be aware of. A study by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids investigated how often children (6- to 11-year-olds) and teens (12- to 17-year-olds) had been cyberbullied—and the results were astonishing. One-third of the teens and one-sixth of the children reported that someone said threatening or embarrassing things about them online.
Sometimes as parents, it is easy to feel helpless to stop this bullying trend, whether your child is being bullied or is the bully himself. But there are measures you can take to minimize the risk of cyberbullying taking over your child’s life.
Limit the hours your child is allowed to spend on their devices/social media. Yes, every kid has their own phone these days. Yes, it is likely they will need to be on the Internet for homework, and for socialization in general. Not allowing them to have a device (cellphone/tablet) at all may actually hurt their social lives and make them more susceptible to bullying, but limiting the hours they are allowed to use them will keep them from making their lives revolve around cyberspace. Tip: Don’t let them take their phones with them to bed at night; this will save them from losing sleep over what someone has said about them on the Internet.
Monitor you child’s online presence. You have a right as a parent to look at your child’s text messages, their Facebook, their Insatgram, etc. Don’t allow them to block you from anything, and you will have a better understanding of what they are dealing with. If you see any harmful comments, document them and delete them from your child’s eyes. If they’ve already seen it, a dialogue will be opened to you to have with your child about cyberbullying and how they should best handle themselves in their situation. An ignorant parent is not going to be able to help their child through this rough time.
Emphasize the importance of living offline. If you are constantly on your phone, tablet, or laptop, that will encourage your child to do the same. If you stress to them that what is online isn’t real life, and spend more time going outside, seeing friends, and spending one-on-one time, phoneless, with your child, they will do the same. When their entire life does not reside online, the effects of cyberbullying will not be as harmful to them, because they can see that what is on a screen is not real life.
Love them. No matter how much you work to help your child avoid cyberbullying, the fact is that everyone is made to feel worthless at some point in their lives. But loving your child unconditionally, and in a way that makes them feel secure, will help them to know that they are not worthless, no matter what anybody behind a screen says.
Has your child ever dealt with cyberbullying? How did you help them through it? Let me know in the comments!