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How to help your kids tackle cyberbullying

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The Internet can help to enhance your child’s life in so many different ways. YouTube tutorials can teach them practical skills, online resources can aid their homework efforts and an endless supply of information means the world’s their oyster when it comes to learning new things.

Sadly however, the Internet has a dark side and a major part of this is cyberbullying. The statistics about young children and how they’re affected by online abuse are shocking and deeply concerning:

  • One in four children have experienced something upsetting on a social networking site
  • Around one in eight young people have been bullied on social media
  • Almost one in four kids have come across racist or hate messages online
  • A survey carried out for the children’s charity, Plan International UK last year found that 40% of boys have received harassment online and almost half of all girls have experienced some form of harassment or abuse on social media

In a world where the Internet is an unavoidable part of our lives, even for youngsters, how can you help your kids to tackle cyberbullying?

Make yourself aware of what your children are doing

You can do this by:

  • Keeping the computer in a common area of the home and monitoring their online usage. Putting restrictions on certain websites can help to filter out a lot of websites but not all so even with these restrictions in place, it’s still important to keep an eye on what your children are doing and who they’re speaking to. At work your company’s data will be well protected and will must likely be stored in a data centre, however your home computer may not have sufficient protections in place. Make sure you keep your antivirus software up to date and that your parental controls are activated.
  • Educate yourself about all the latest social media sites and apps. Even if you’re checking your child’s phone, you may not be aware of all the different ways they’re communicating with others. Last year, this helpful infographic ’10 apps teens are using that parents need to know’ was shared to help increase awareness of online safety – https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/10-apps-police-warning-parents-12328418

Be open with your kids

shutterstock_365508296Talk regularly with your children about online issues and create an environment where they feel that if they’re having problems, they can talk to you without judgement. Reiterate the importance of being honest with you if anything is inappropriate, upsetting or dangerous. The quicker you can tackle the issue of bullying, the better.

Kids often find it difficult to come forward about bullying because they fear that if they get the bully in to trouble, they’re going to get picked on even more. Keep an eye out for the signs that your child may be getting grief online:

  • They’re making excuses not to go to school (cyberbullying can be done by strangers but more often than not, it will be by someone they know at school)
  • They’ve become quiet and withdrawn
  • They’ve experienced a sudden loss in confidence
  • They may try to hide text messages or social media accounts from you
  • You suspect they’re deleting messages
  • They may suddenly stop using the computer even though they used to enjoy using it
  • They don’t want to use the computer in a place you can see it or they close down screens when you enter the room
  • They seem nervous when receiving a message
  • They’ve become withdrawn

Teach them how to respond to bullies effectively

It’s important that children don’t respond to threats or comments online because this just encourages bullies to continue. As upsetting as it may be for your child to see them, don’t delete any messages either. Keep them and print them off along with any email addresses and screen names you have. If it’s a school issue, take it up with the school. If not, bring it to the attention of the police.

For more information about how you can protect your child from cyberbullying, please visit the National Bullying Helpline for further advice – https://www.nationalbullyinghelpline.co.uk/.