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Keeping Children Safe from Cyberbullying

Monday, July 27, 2015 Leave a Comment

By Amy Williams

No one promised that raising teenagers would be easy.

The unpredictable mood swings, hormones, brain developments, and peer pressures are common complaints overheard from parents. Unfortunately, there are a lot of other factors like illness or trauma that can influence a teen’s well being and impact the role of a parent. One common problem facing our youth today is cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying Defined

Victims are unable to escape the barrage of comments and mean posts hurled online or by text message. The advent of constant connectivity has taken bullying to a new level using digital means.

Bullying used to be contained to certain places or events away from the home. This allowed a victim access to safe retreats like home, friends’ houses, and more. Unfortunately, technology has banished these barricades- allowing bullies constant access to their targets.

Peers often “like” or add comments to increase the misery which often causes the underdog to feel that the world is against them. This “pile up” mentality eventually wears down a child and soon they feel isolated and depressed.

Cyberbullying Statistics

Evidence is mounting that something needs to be done to contain cyberbullying:
● According to recent bullying statistics, over 55% of all teens who participate in social media have witnessed cyberbullying

● 52% report being victims with 33% of them being threatened online

● 90% of children will not tell their parents or an adult when cyberbullying occurs

● 70% of teens have taken some form of action to hide online activity from parents

15% of high school students were electronically bullied in the past year

● 80% of teens regularly use cell phones which make them a common medium for cyberbullying

8 Strategies For Parents

The anonymity offered from technology, like Social Media or cell phones, is favored by bullies to harass or insult a victim. This might not seem like a big deal, but when you consider that there are over 23 million children between the ages of 8-17 using Facebook or 17 million connected with mobile devices you can see the larger picture.

Studies have found “only one out of every six pa
rents of adolescents and teens are even aware of the scope and intensity involved with cyberbullying”. That means that parental involvement can be the key to stopping the vicious cycle of aggressors and victims.

Listed below are strategies parents can utilize:

Know which social media sites and apps a child enjoys using.

Review social media etiquette.

● Know a child’s password and “friend” them on social media. Bullying behaviors might be deterred if Mom is watching. If cyberbullying is a problem, open and read messages together.

● Encourage your son or daughter to notify someone if they witness cyberbullying.

● Inform your child not to volunteer personal information online and be careful what images

they send.

● Document acts of cyberbullying. This will help families communicate with schools or officials regarding the problem. Save threatening emails, take a quick screenshot, and keep a log of
cyberbullying behaviors. It will help build a solid case if further intervention is needed.

Seek support from the school or community to help children who are involved in bullying. Working as a group will open up communications and draw attention to the negative consequences surrounding cyberbullying.

Monitor your child’s activity with an app on their smart phones and parental controls for the Internet.

Forging Ahead

Parents and teens are now armed with information to stop this epidemic of digital aggression. Our job as parents is still difficult and daunting as our children develop into adults. Thankfully, society has been raising awareness regarding the frightening aspects of cyberbullying.

With a little guidance and involvement, the potential impact cyberbullying has on our children can be greatly diminished.

Amy Williams, and I am a freelance journalist and mother of two teenagers. I am part of a parent advocacy group in southern California that helps parents struggling with raising troubled teenagers.