Cyberbullying: A faceless threat to your child

By Grant Wood

A cyberbully on the other side of the world can be right beside your child at the same time – what a creepy and frightening thought! As a parent, do you understand enough about your child’s digital world to protect them from cyberbullies?

What you need to know

A bully causing trouble in the schoolyard can be stopped. It can also be contained within the walls of the school.

When this happens in the digital world, there are virtually no walls, leaving your child vulnerable to a 24/7 assault.

The reality is that social media allows them to make anything public: posts can be shared, revisited and linked to by anyone who has an Internet connection. An item can be spread in an instant and is almost impossible to stop.

How you can protect your child

PCR – Prevent. Control. Respond. These are the 3 ways you can keep your child safe.

Educate yourself. You need to become familiar with your child’s Internet activities. This means familiarising yourself with the social media platforms and any other type of networking sites that they use.

It’s also important to understand that this world has its own language: there are certain words and phrases that you and your child should be aware of so that they are equipped to prevent an unhealthy situation.

Explain to them about how to respond. The best advice is to tell them not to respond at all – a response is exactly what the cyberbully wants. Your child may make a comment that encourages the cyberbully.

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Make the computer as safe as possible. Invest in a trusted anti-virus package. The majority of the latest software will alert you and your child if they link to a suspicious site. This is one of the ways in which you can help provide a form of control.

Set certain rules. Protection software is only one part of the safety process. You also need to talk to your child about their online activity.

Let them know that there are cyberbullies out there, but if you both sit down and come up with safety rules, they’ll be ready if it happens.

Rules should include:

  • Surfing the Internet at a particular time
  • Only go on sites that you trust
  • Tell them to let you know if they think they are being cyberbullied
  • Teaching them how to use the anti-virus software so that they can check for anything suspicious

Consequences if you don’t get involved

Children who suffer from cyberbullying may develop medical conditions such as depression and anxiety.

The online world can be even worse than the real world. So, please make sure you understand the seriousness of cyberbullying.

You would do everything you can to protect your child from the dangers of a schoolyard bully – ones that hide behind a computer screen are just as much of a threat.

For more information about cyberbullying, take a look at this powerful video clip.