The world of technology has evolved so much that despite all the conveniences, it seems to have a dark sinister side. Modern technology, particularly the internet and social media, has spawned a number of cyberbullying incidents that are freaking out all internet users. With the widespread use of internet technology, the data on cyberbullying is increasingly alarming, that too, children and teenagers are becoming the most common vulnerable victims of bullying. This is why parents, teachers, as well as children, should be aware of the consequences of cyberbullying and must know how to stay safe from any kind of online bullying hazards.
Today, the internet has been changing so much faster, and therefore, it is important that parents be aware of the problem and have a constant reiteration of the situation of cyber safety with their children. Cyberbullying is nothing but a form of bullying that uses electronic methods like phones, apps, computers, and social media to send hurtful, humiliating messages or media to targeted victims. It is important to take preventive steps at the earliest or it can become worse. Here are a few practical ways in which you can prevent and protect your child from any kind of cyberbullying.
Monitor Child’s Activities:
When it comes to protecting your child from cyberbullying, you need to first monitor and understand the problem to know what it does to the child’s emotional and mental attitude. This way, you can deal with the issue promptly and safeguard your children from any form of cyberbullying, before it happens. Parents have to start with monitoring their children’s activities right from home.
Keep your computer in the common room at home and allow children to use it amidst everyone. Limit their computer-time and do not allow them to take laptops or tablets/iPad to their bedrooms. Also, before you go on tightening the noose, you need to be aware of the social networking websites yourself. Learn to know how these sites work and get familiar with the most common ones like Facebook, Twitter, and other such platforms where your child engages in. Also, ask your child to show his/her profile pages to you and if you are a member in the network, stay connected with them, so that you can monitor what they do and whom they befriend with.
Communicate and Converse Openly with Children:
Communicating openly with children about online problems is an important factor in knowing whether a child is being cyberbullied or not. Talk to your child regularly about online risks and let him/her share with you his/her concerns about cyberbullying or other online disturbances. When setting limits for internet usage, explain to your kids the reasons why it is important. Talk to them about online safety and why they should not share personal details or photos with unknown persons in the online space. Once you team them the pros and cons of the internet, they will be aware of the risks and will be able to safeguard themselves from any potential online dangers.
But please note that it is important that you keep an open mind while talking to your child so that you can always be your child’s go-to-person whenever he/she needs help, if something is inappropriate, upsetting, or serious. Do not overreact or start blaming the child when he/she encounters a problem. Be supportive enough to understand their problem and help them find a solution. Build in your child the trust that they can come over to their parents, as and when needed, to discuss problems of any kind. In addition, have a talk with the school counselors to know about bullying at school, if any.
How to Identify and Respond to Cyberbullying?
The emotional pain of cyberbullying is real and can have lasting effects on the child. So it is not wise for parents to just shrug off the child’s emotions while dealing with the bullying aspect. Do not threaten them or underreact to their cry outs for help; instead, teach them how to respond to such messages and deal with it. Restricting your child’s use of technology as a response to cyberbullying is not always the best strategy as it can make the child become secretive or he/she may choose to prevent from reporting any cyberbullying incidents as they may think their access to the internet will be denied by you.
Tell them not to respond to any threats or cyberbullying comments/messages online. Also, make sure they do not delete any of the messages or emails as the screennames and other things are necessary to identify the cyberbullies and can be printed out as a proof and evidence of cyberbullying. Teach your child about the ‘block’ and ‘report abuse’ feature on every social website, so that they can easily deal with bullies by blocking them from sending any further emails or messages. If the threats or bullying continues to escalate, be prepared to get the law enforcement involved.
Overall, parental involvement is very much important in preventing cyberbullying. Parents need to always have an eye on their children’s online interactions/relationships to help prevent and address cyberbullying at the earliest. You should be able to monitor, communicate, and identify the child’s online activities so that you can be aware of what is going on behind the screen and what kind of communication/activities the children are indulged in. This way, you can be prepared to face situations and have the capacity to respond appropriately to cyberbullying incidents.
Parental support holds utmost importance for children for tackling the cyberbullying cases but almost equal responsibility falls on the educational institution as well where the child studies. We, at the K.R. Mangalam School, one among the top 10 schools in Delhi, have a zero-tolerance policy for any sort of harassment, threatening, or any form of bullying. All the teachers and authorities at KRMS have been specifically commanded to handle any such incidents with extreme austerity and to sincerely deal with it to ensure no such incident happens thereafter. Also, we regularly provide our students with awareness about cyber safety and organize internet safety awareness programs as a part of the school activity. At, KRMS, we strive to build a safe and secure environment for each child and we take all the necessary steps for ensuring the same.