One in 10 young people are cyber bullied every few weeks. The effects of this type of bullying on young people today cannot be underestimated, with most houses have multiple online devices, it makes it very hard for a young person to escape the negativity when at home.
Below are some practical tips and discussion points that could be had with your children on the topic of cyber bullying.
Topics to discuss about stopping cyber bullying behaviours
- Explain it's never a good idea to retaliate against cyber bullying
- Collect the evidence (screenshots, saving texts etc.) of the behavior
- Get your child to change their privacy settings
- Ask your child if they know whether the same thing is happening to others. Encourage them to support their friends and report any cyber bullying to the school if the perpetrator goes there as well.
- If there is any indication your child may be at risk, or if threats have been made, stopping the cyber bullying is critical, make a report to the police. Laws have been broken. Contact the internet service provider or the site owner so that material can be preserved but removed from public view.
Practical tips on how to stop cyber bullying
- Talk about technology with your children. It's OK if they know more than you do.
- Reach an agreement about what acceptable online behaviour looks and feels like and how they will spend time online (e.g. homework, social networking, and gaming). If you and your children have regular conversations about the online world, they'll be more likely to talk to you if they are harassed or experiencing cyber bullying or if something feels uncomfortable.
- For young children's use and safety it is appropriate to put filters in place, set security to 'high' and to keep a close eye on what they are doing online. And make sure you set agreements about how much time they can allocate to different activities online.
- Make sure passwords are changed regularly and kept private even from friends, as friends sometimes become enemies and could use their online accounts in offensive or obnoxious ways. As children become older, supervision needs will diminish as they take responsibility for their own online behaviour.
- Many children don't want talk about how to stop cyber bullying or other negative experiences because they fear their access to technology will be removed. Reassure them this won't happen. Cyber bullying is serious and not a case of 'it's just words'. Cyber-attacks have a lasting effect and can damage a child in a variety of ways.
- Like face-to-face bullying, cyber bullying is also usually a relationship problem that starts off at school but happens out of school hours, often on privately-owned devices. Even though the bullying doesn't take place in school hours it can create serious problems back at school by affecting students' feelings of safety, wellbeing and even their academic progress. Dealing with it therefore falls within a school's duty of care.