When children go online to do homework, watch videos, or socialize with friends, you want to believe they’re perfectly safe. The truth is, you have to stay vigilante and watch for signs of cyberbullying. While it can happen to anyone, children are most susceptible. With your help, you can protect them and keep their online experience a good one.
Cyberbullying Facts You Need to Know
Your children and grandchildren probably spend a large portion of their time online. Their digital world is filled with hidden dangers and cyberbullying is one of the most common types. From hurtful comments and rumors to serious threats, cyberbullies can destroy the self-esteem and lives of their victims.
In one study, the cyber bullying rate increased from 18.8% in 2007 to 34% in 2015. This number is too large to ignore. The anonymity of the Internet makes bullies feel braver, leading to more bullying instances online.
To give you a better glimpse into how big of a problem this is, here are some staggering facts:
- Girls are victims nearly twice as often
- 35% of children have received threats online with almost 20% receiving multiple threats
- 90% of middle school students fear cyberbullying
- 1.26 million people experience online bullying daily
- Most kids never report it
- All forms of bullying adversely affect a child’s mental state, academic performance, and general health
Cyberbullying might not seem like a problem since it’s not done face to face like normal bullying. The problem is, kids can’t escape the cyber version. Even when the bully’s gone, the hurtful comments and threats online remain, that can lead to lasting damage to a child’s self-esteem and social life.
You may not be able to protect your children or grandchildren every second they’re online, but you can take steps to keep them safer.
The first step is to determine if cyberbullying is already occurring by:
- Talking to your child regularly
- Watching for any changes in behavior or mood
- Watching for changes in social activity
- Monitoring online activity, including mobile use
The sooner you notice a problem, the quicker you can intervene and get your child away from the offending online content. Plus, they’ll know they have someone on their side, boosting their self-esteem.
KEEP KIDS SAFE ONLINE
The next step is to prevent cyberbullying to begin with. Some of the best ways to do so include:
- Restrict online activity, especially for younger children
- Monitor online activity and use parental monitoring tools if necessary
- Partner with a friend to view your child’s social media activity
- Educate children about proper online usage
TEACH SAFE ONLINE PRACTICES
Beyond monitoring online activity, it is important to provide young users of the Internet with tools and tips to safely navigate the web.
A few things to educate kids of all ages about include:
- Avoid posting embarrassing or overly sexy photos
- Encourage strong passwords
- Never post or support derogatory or hurtful things online
- Explain types of sites to avoid
- Always tell someone if cyberbullying is occurring
- Use privacy settings on social networks
Safer Sites for Kids
Some sites just aren’t meant for a younger audience. That doesn’t mean your kids shouldn’t be online. Let them enjoy watching videos and socializing by ensuring they use more kid-friendly sites, such as:
- Kiddle – Kid-friendly search engine
- TIME for Kids – TIME Magazine’s kid-friendly site
- YouTube Kids – YouTube, but for made for kids
- Kideos – Fun videos for kids
Today’s Parent has an extensive list and We Live Security even lists some kid-friendly social networks.
What to Avoid Online or Use Caution When Visiting
It shouldn’t be a surprise that cyberbullying occurs on some sites more often than others. If you want to prevent your child from being a victim, watch out for these sites and apps:
- Chat rooms
- Social networks (54% of Facebook teens experience cyberbullying)
- Messaging apps (monitor activity)
- Image sharing sites/apps
The best way to end cyberbullying is to prevent it from happening. Talk to your kids and keep track of what they do online to keep them safer and happier.
What steps do you currently take to keep your children or grandchildren safe online? Share with us below in the comments.