No matter how young your kids are, if they have online access in the form of a smartphone, a tablet or a laptop, then they are at risk of being cyberbullied, or witnessing someone else being cyberbullied or of bullying someone themselves.
It is far easier to bully someone online than in real life. Statistics prove this as 43% of teens reported being cyberbullied, compared to 19.6% of those bullied in school. The veil the internet gives each one of us has its advantages but it also adds opportunities for people to pick on those who are vulnerable.
Bullying can have severe negative effects on a person’s self-esteem, especially if that person is still young and working on building a strong sense of self. That is why as a parent, arming yourself with useful tips on how to raise kids in the age of cyberbullying is important and with the following points you can do just that.
Create an environment that does not tolerate bullying
Your kids’ first lessons in life will start in the home, so creating an environment that does not tolerate bullying is the first step to dealing with cyberbullying. You can do this by instilling empathy in your kids from an early age. When your kids learn to use empathy, then they will think twice before they bully someone else. Moreover, if they witness someone being cyberbullied, then they will be less likely to ignore what’s happening, as 90% of teens have admitted of doing.
Teach them how to take action when they witness cyberbullying
90% of teens ignoring a situation where someone is being cyberbullied is significantly huge. As a parent, you want to see cyberbullying stopped once and for all, but to do that, we all have to raise a generation that takes action when they see someone being abused.
Teach your kids to take action safely to stop someone from being cyberbullied. There are a number of options. They should not share or like the post and if possible, they should report it. This is easy to do when the cyberbullying is happening on social media. Your kids could also intervene by commenting. This is a powerful action, in fact, stats show that “57% of bullying situations have stopped” when a peer intervened.
They can also collect evidence by taking a screenshot and share it with an adult, so that the cyberbully could potentially be stopped. Finally, in a true test of empathy, your kids can reach out to the victim privately to show the latter support in this difficult time.
Teach them what to do if they are the ones being cyberbullied
Only 1 in 10 children will tell an adult about the abuse they are going through. Mean texts or threats, false rumors or identity theft are all forms of cyberbullying that can leave your kids feeling too embarrassed or scared to open up. Similar to the former point, you can tell your kids to report the cyberbully and even to keep evidence of emails and screenshots to take the person down.
As parents however, we want our kids to come to us in situations like these and so creating a trusting environment, where the communication lines between you as a parent and the kids is healthy and honest, will make it easier for them to come to you.
Cyberbullying has spread as the internet grew more vast and complex. Eliminating cyberbullying forever seems like an impossible feat but what we can do is raise our kids to not tolerate this form of abuse, simply to have a laugh at someone else’s expense.