Bullying has long been a problem that has plagued children. A cyber-bully is very different from a playground bully, in fact it can be even worse than the playground bully. Teens often are afraid to tell their parents about bullying incidents because they believe they will loose internet privileges.
Steps you can take to protect your child:
If you allow your child to have a MySpace or Facebook account have an account yourself. Require your child to add you to their friend list. Check the account frequently.
Google your child’s name, email, and cell number. Sign up for Google email alerts if you child name comes up. (1)
Monitor your child’s internet usage. Keep the computer with internet access in common areas of your home. Also use monitoring software to keep a record of emails, chat and etc that your child receives. If there is a case of cyber-bullying this gives you proof of what is happening.
Assure your child that they can come to you with any internet related issues. Do not over-react if your child tells you they are being cyber-bullied. (2) Be supportive at the time it is happening. If you child has done anything to contribute to the bullying wait until the issue is resolved to deal with it.
Teach your child to protect their password and not share it even with their best friend. Change the password if you think their has been a security breech.(3)
Stress the importance of not giving out personal information via the internet.
Restrict access to MySpace and Facebook Profiles and instant messenger accounts to only people on your friends list. Do not add someone to your buddy list you do not know.
Teach your child that if they get an abusive message to tell you or send you a copy of the message.
Discuss with your child what cyber-bullying is and why it is wrong. Also why it is important not to send any form of message that could be abusive or derogatory even if it is a joke.
- ABCNews, Web Resources on Cyber-Bullying [Available on-line http://www.abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=2475050, last accessed 29 November 2007.]