Is Your Teenager Armed with New Technology this Year?
Many parents gave their children iPads, cell phones and computers this past holiday season.
Hopefully, along with these gifts of advanced technology, those lucky teenagers were also given good guidelines on being safe online. Keeping children safe is top priority for parents and it's important that parents stay diligent at keeping a close eye on their child's internet and phone activities as part of that process. But sometimes parents overlook something. What if their child isn't the victim, but instead the problem?
According to cyberbullying statistics from the i-SAFE foundation, over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyberbullying. These days, many law enforcement officers are reporting a new problem - cybershaming. That's when teens post pictures of each other accompanied by derogatory comments.
As we kick off the new year, we thought it would be a good time to give parents some guidelines and reminders to make sure their child isn't a victim - or a bully!
First and foremost, what should you do if your child is bullied by cell phone or in cyberspace?
Maintain an open door policy. Kids are often too scared to report bullying incidents. They may feel embarrassed, frightened and even guilty that they did something wrong. Some kids fear that telling their parents will result in their cell phone and Internet privileges being taken away.
Ask questions. Find out if your child believes he or she is in actual physical danger. If a real threat has been made or there was already an assault, contact the school district and your local authorities immediately.
Never retaliate. Responding to a cyberbully is not recommended, as it can sometimes create more friction and increase the harassing incidents. Encourage your child to avoid retaliation whenever possible.
Know your school’s policies. Most schools are mandated by the state to have policies on bullying, harassment and violence. Find out what your school’s policies are and hold them accountable for enforcing the rules.
Monitor communications. Learn who your child is communicating with both online and via cell phone. The easiest way of doing this is by using an internet monitoring product (like SafetyWeb). Watch closely for warning signs that cyberbullying is continuing or becoming more frequent.
It's also important to help make sure your child isn’t the one engaging in inappropriate behavior.
Pay attention to how your child talks about his or her classmates.
Watch how your child treats others.
It's valuable to monitor your child’s e-communications and pay attention to their activity on Facebook and other popular websites. Do you like your child's friends? Does your child run with a tough crowd? Do other children keep their distance?
Experts say teens often engage in cyberbullying without realizing it. Hurtful comments among friends can quickly escalate. Have a talk with your teenager about the power of words - and treating others like they would like to be treated. It's also a good time to make sure they know your rules and expectations and the consequences of using technology the wrong way.
Here’s to a tech happy and safe new year!
Tagged as: cyber bullying, cyberbullying, internet safety for teens, statistics, teens internet activity, teens online health