All parents know there are hidden dangers lurking out there that could harm children. It’s a fact of life. Over the last decade or so, parents have watched as cyberbullying has become one of the largest online issues facing our children. Unfortunately, just as the internet isn’t going anywhere, neither are cyberbullies.
According to the Cyberbully Research Center, approximately 20% of students report experiencing cyberbullying in their lifetime. Mean or hurtful comments and rumors spreading online are the most common types. And, it seems girls are significantly more likely to experience cyberbullying in their lifetimes, when compared to adolescent boys.
What may be even more alarming is that a 2009 Associated Press/MTV Digital Abuse Study of more than 1,200 young people found that 50% of kids ages 14-24 have experienced digital abusive behavior in their lifetime and 45% have seen people being mean to each other on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
There are many tools and resources out there to help parents keep a watchful eye on what their children are doing online. Many parents may not want to be perceived as playing “Big Brother” watching over their kids. Or, parents may worry that their kids will think they don’t trust them. For parents struggling with these issues, it’s helpful to be reminded that utilizing these tools within reason is one of the best ways to keep kids safe from harmful content that other children, teens and adults may be posting online.
It’s simply amazing to see how young kids are these days when they first go online. A recent study by the non-profit organization Joan Ganz Cooney Center and the Sesame Workshop found that 80% of children ages 0-5 are using the internet on at least a weekly basis. Imagine what the percentage is of adolescent-aged children, those who have independent access to computers and the internet.
Ensuring that kids stay safe and feel secure online at all ages is no doubt a top priority for 21st century parents. It’s important to realize that simple steps like monitoring children’s daily internet use can go a long way in keeping them out of harm’s way. Your kids may not always like it, they may get upset with you, feeling they are being watched. But at the end of the day, you are being a good parent by actively participating and monitoring your child’s online activities.
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