With teens spending as much as nine hours a day online, it’s not surprising to learn that bullying has shifted to the Internet. As common as cyberbullying is, it is rarely reported.
- More than 50% of all teens have been bullied at least once.
- More than 25% have experienced bullying on multiple occasions.
- More than 50% of teens who are bullied do not tell their parents.
- 81% of teens believe that online bullying is easier to get away with than in-person bullying.
How Parents Can Help Prevent Cyberbullying
Your first reaction to cyberbullying as a parent may be to limit your child’s online time or remove your teen’s internet privileges. Many experts believe that the first step to supporting your child from being bullied is speaking with them and monitoring their online and cellphone activities.
A few suggestions to protect your child from cyberbullying or becoming a cyberbully themselves are to:
Understand your teen’s perspective
Adolescents and teens are more likely to talk to you about their problems and what they’re experiencing if you understand their technology and the challenges they face. Use current events to begin conversations around privacy, protecting their online identity and not sending photos, messages, or harmful texts they could regret, as well as not participating in cyberbullying themselves, is a great place to start.
Be open to them opening-up
Encourage your teens that you are a safe person to turn to about what they see and experience online. Let them know too that you are open to hearing who they’re sharing information with. If your children are uncomfortable sharing with you, reinforce that they can share with another adult that both you and they trust. Let them know that if they are victims of cyberbullying or have made a mistake in the past, they will not be punished and reassure them that cyberbullying is not their fault.
Let them see your perspective
Sharing that your job as a parent keeps your children and teens safe opens up the dialogue around monitoring their cell and internet usage. A recent study shows that 62% of teens would be accepting, and 75% would be unaffected by their parents monitoring their online activities. There are several monitoring software and router options out there to aid in monitoring online activity.
Recommended > View our previous webinar “Keeping Your Kids Safe Online” to learn more.
Set your boundaries and limitations
As children gain access to the online world at younger ages through tablets and cell phones, it is essential to create rules about your teen’s usage. It’s recommended that monitoring specific devices begin at later ages, such as 6-9 for a tablet and 10-12 for cell phones.
Create agreements on usage
Communicating the agreements before your child can have their cell phone will open up a collaborative conversation for you both. You may include boundaries such as where they are allowed to have their devices in the home, what times they can use them, and what they can download onto them (such as apps). Don’t forget to add precise and understandable consequences for not following the agreements you set and passwords that you control.
Consider alternative punishments than taking away their phones
Cell phones create more independence in kids who have them and allow them to keep in contact with their friends and you at any time. So removing their phones as a punishment is something you may want to reconsider.
Be an example for your children and teens
The internet and cell phones allow your kids to socialize with their friends and family. It’s easy for kids (and adults) to turn to technology when our social-emotional needs are not met. Lead by example and shut down your phone, and disconnect. Establishing phone-free family time allows you to reconnect with each other and give your kids your full attention.