*This is a guest post
Our lives have become inundated with technology, with smartphones being particularly pervasive. The latest research shows that, on average, children receive their first smartphones at the age of 10; by age 12, approximately 50% of children have social media accounts (primarily Facebook and Instagram). This means that the need for cyberbullying prevention is very real indeed.
While smartphones do wonders for connectivity and communication, allowing people of all ages to reach out and interact with each other, it also has a darker side. Cyberbullying is a recent but very serious danger for children who are still figuring out who they are and how they fit in the world; the following pieces of advice can help you navigate the potential deadly waters of cyberbullying to ensure your child is protected and educated.
Know Your Technology
If you allow your children to have a smartphone, a social media account, or become involved in other online platforms, learn how to use them yourself. This offers a win-win opportunity: not only will you gain a better understanding of the platforms your kids are spending their time on, but they themselves can be your teachers! By taking an interest in their online world, you can strengthen your relationship while making sure they know what kind of online behaviour to watch out for.
Respond Thoughtfully, Not Fast
Acting rashly and from a place of pure emotion can actually make things worse for your children. Many cyberbullying experiences involve somebody getting marginalized, which the bully thinks increases their power; if you respond publicly — or if your child’s peers find out about any immediate actions you’ve taken, no matter how discreet — the situation could easily become exacerbated. Any response you take needs to be thoroughly thought out.
Work with your child
Rather than making these decisions on your own, however, you should make sure your child is involved. This will help them regain some of the power and dignity that has been taken away from them. Because bullying is almost always related to school life, it also helps with context; your child will have a better understanding of the problem, which can ensure you get to the root of the problem and come with a realistic and successful solution. Remember, this is about your child’s life; they need to be part of the solution.
Resist The Urge To Punish
It’s easy to seek punishment on the individual who’s been hurting your child, but it’s extremely important to remember that the solution comes first. Children who bully are still children; they too may be hurting, which could explain why they’re acting out. Rather than reacting out of anger and demanding severe consequences, a more measured approach often yields better results.
Cyberbullying is a terrifying threat. Its inherent insidiousness can leave many parents in the dark over what is happening in their children’s lives. Get involved in your child’s online activities, reassure them that you’re always available to talk, and follow the above tips if they come to your with a cyberbullying problem.
Have your children experience cyberbullying in the past? Do share your experiences in a comment below.
Brenda Kimble is a writer and stay-at-home mother of two daughters and a son, plus their beagle named Duke! She loves blogging, crafting, and spending time with her family. She also enjoys strolling the streets of her quaint neighbourhood in Austin, Texas and finding the trendiest hotspots for fashion, food, and live music.
Picture credit: Background photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com