10 Ways to Protect Your Children from Cyberbullying

Kids love the social aspects of the Internet, especially chatting and social networking. It gives them a way to express themselves and connect with others. It also opens them up for cyberbully attacks. You can help safeguard your children from cyberbullying and the emotional and physical damage it can cause.

1.  Join the Ranks

One of the best ways to understand what your kids are doing online is to do it, too. Create a MySpace or Facebook page and add your kids as "friends." It's no different than expecting to meet your kids friends and dates. You'll be able to see what your kids are posting and what type of response they may be getting. Besides, you might have fun as well. 

2.  Pay Attention

Kids typically give signals when they are in distress. They may withdraw from family and friends, become increasingly angry, moody and sullen or start acting out. And, yes, this is normal teen behavior! Even so, these are all cries for help. It is important that parents pay attention to these signals as they arise because they may be signs that something bigger is going on. 

3.  Listen

If your child casually mentions an incidence of cyberbullying, or other disturbing Internet activities, make the time to listen. Resist the urge to “pump” your child for information, and instead give them openings to share what they are thinking and feeling without judgment from you. 

4.  Educate

Make sure your kids understand what cyberbullying is and why it’s dangerous. Ask them what they would do if they found themselves on the receiving end, and encourage them to think about how the victims might feel. Have your kids name some adults they could turn to for help and let them know that it’s OK if they don’t feel comfortable coming directly to you. The important thing is that they find someone who can support them and get any help they may need. 

5.  Take Things Seriously

Cyberbullying is not a joke and should never be treated as such. Whether your children are on the giving or receiving end, it is essential that you step in to resolve the problem. Never encourage kids to mislead, tease, slander or otherwise harm someone else online. 

6.  Be Supportive

Never, ever brush off cyberbullying incidents. If your child is upset, you need to take it seriously and support them through the next steps. You may think your child is overreacting, but things that seem trivial to adults hold a much larger impact for adolescents. Your guidance can help your child learn how to handle difficult situations. 

7.  Be Firm

Set expectations about computer use early on. Say “no” to inappropriate Internet activities for your kids and hold firm. If there are rules about when and where the computer can be used, make sure they are clear and enforceable. Don’t forget that your kids could be accessing the Internet in places outside of your home. 

8.  Follow Through

If you suspect that a child is the victim of cyberbullying attacks, immediately take action. This activity can quickly escalate to dangerous levels. You’ll want to take the steps to stop the cyberbully in the short term, and also follow up in the future. 

9.  Get Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to a teacher, principal, parent or even law enforcement to help deal with a situation. And, if your child is showing signs of distress, consider having them talk with a counselor or doctor. Remember that cyberbullying can refer to emotional harassment, but can also result in physical danger. 

10.  Encourage

Help your child find safe things to do online and positive ways to express their identity and creativity. Rather than engaging in social networking sites, some kids might like designing video games, composing music, exploring digital photography or creating digital art. In additional, encourage them to take on activities offline, such as clubs, church groups and sports. Remember that the draw of chats and social networking is the ability to connect with other people, so help them find positive ways to make the same connections. 

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Lifestyle Magazine: 10 Ways to Protect Your Children from Cyberbullying
10 Ways to Protect Your Children from Cyberbullying
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