The internet can be a helpful tool to help with study and homework, and it’s a wonderful social tool to keep family and friends in touch. Mobile phones are a means of keeping parents and children in contact in the case of emergencies, however, despite the positive aspects of these technologies, a pervasive evil is evident.
Cyberbullying or electronic bullying is a unique phenomenon that is different from the traditional playground bullying that occurred when I was a child. Rather, it is bullying through technology: email, instant messaging, chat rooms, websites, gaming sites, text messages or images sent.
- Do randomly check your child’s internet devices and remove them at night when the child should be asleep (trust me with this one!)
- Do check the apps your child has downloaded; some have false icons (eg there is an app that looks like a calculator but when you punch in a code it opens to reveal secret content the child has hidden)
- Do be your child’s ‘friend’ on facebook and other accounts (remember though that users can select who will see the posts so don’t be gullible that you’re seeing everything-make a habit of looking at their profiles from their phones)
- Do have open, honest conversations with your teen about online behaviour
- Don’t be judgemental of your teen—if they feel that you are, they may not open up to you. No-one likes to be judged.
- Do remind yourself that your teen is trying to figure out how to ‘adult’
- Do ensure your child that their actions, both good and bad, have consequences
- Do let your child know about the dangers of accepting friends online, or talking to people they have never met
- Do watch for signs that your child is not bullying, or being bullied
- 75% of parents trust their child’s online behaviour, and trust they are not looking at porn, sexting or cyberbullying. Be part of the other 25% and don’t be naive.
- Do try to keep up with technology