Looking Ahead To A Cyberbully-Free School Year
As we get closer to the beginning of a new school year, it’s important for parents to remind themselves of how technology has changed the landscape of their children’s school environment, in particular their social interaction with their classmates. In this hi-tech era combined with recent news headlines, it’s no surprise that cyberbullying tops the list of concerns parents have for their kids as they head back to the classroom.
For parents, experiences of being bullied were usually limited to the playground. But in today’s world with texting, tweeting and social media sites reigning supreme, inappropriate interactions between kids is an anywhere, anytime proposition that can and does have a major impact on the well-being of students.
So beyond utilizing SafetyWeb to help monitor your child’s online activities, what are steps you can take both off and online to teach your kids to how to avoid or deal with cyberbullying this new school year?
Here are some tips from the National Crime Prevention Council (www.ncpc.org) on the subject:
*Keep your home computer in a busy area of your house.
*Set up email and chat accounts with your children. Make sure that you know their screen names and passwords and that they don't include any personal information in their online profiles.
*Regularly go over their instant messenger "buddy list" with them. Ask who each person is and how your children know him or her.
*Print this list of commonly used acronyms in instant messenger and chat rooms from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and post it by your computer.
*Discuss cyberbullying with your children and ask if they have ever experienced it or seen it happen to someone.
*Tell your children that you won't blame them if they are cyberbullied. Emphasize that you won't take away their computer privileges - this is the main reason kids don't tell adults when they are cyberbullied.
At the end of the day your kids will often have to make decisions on their own as to how to react to online bullying. It’s important to stress the importance of simple yet powerful steps one can take to stop it dead in its tracks, such as blocking communication with cyberbullies, refusing to pass along cyberbullying messages and even reporting it to a trusted adult. Simply put by the National Crime Prevention Council, “If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online. Delete cyberbullying. Don’t write it. Don’t forward it.”
If there is a silver lining to be had with cyberbullying, it’s that it is an issue that is getting more and more attention. The more kids and parents and the community at large are aware of the problem, the less it will be tolerated.
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