National Bullying Awareness Month: Tips to Protect Your Children from Cyber-Bullying

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Mobbing and bullying amongst children and teens is nothing new, probably most of us adults will remember this or that unfortunate case from our own school years. Today, children spend a lot of time in social networks; according to Pew Research, 80% of teens with Internet access use social media sites such as Facebook. Through the Internet, bullying can do bigger harm with information spreading quicker, further and irrevocably. Information that’s online can hardly ever be removed.

National Bullying Awareness Month starts today in the US. At secure.me, we’re dedicated to helping parents protect their children online. We have compiled five tips for parents on how they can protect their children from cyber-bullying:

  1. Foster media literacy – What’s online stays online: Educate your children on the use of the Internet and social networks. Make them aware that things posted online basically can’t be removed. Even information that’s posted and then deleted on Facebook will continuously be stored on Facebook’s servers and by apps connected to the Facebook profile.
  2. Explain – Less information is more: The less information, photos, comments and posts your children share, the less they’re vulnerable towards insults from others.
  3. Educate – Do unto others as you would have others do unto you: Tell your children that teasing, even if meant in a fun way, can hurt others, specifically as online communication can lead to misunderstandings much more than face-to-face communication.
  4. Communicate – Conversation is key: Ask your children to talk to you if they feel bullied by their classmates and other kids.
  5. Monitor – Have an eye on your children’s activities: In the age of social networks it becomes more and more common for parents to monitor their children’s social network profile — in the future it’ll be part of their parental duty of supervision in the same way as controlling their child’s TV consumption, no matter if children and teens like it or not. As a parent, you should know your kids’ privacy settings in social networks and the information your child publishes. Personal, location-based data and sensitive photos picturing your child and friends should be a taboo to share. Negative comments on your child’s profile and in the friends network could be reasons to interfere. Specifically, it’s also important to know who your children engage with and accepting friend requests from strangers absolutely is a no-no. More information on how to monitor your children’s activities on Facebook can be found here.

It’s key to make your children understand that you’re supervising them and monitoring their activities for no other reason than protecting them. Never monitor your children’s activities secretly as this could harm the family’s bond of trust. Social networking should be a topic discussed frequently and openly within the family. As a parent, encourage your children to talk to you and listen to your kids to learn about the risks they face.

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