Would you know if your child was being bullied online?
These days, your children spend more time on social media than ever. As a parent, that makes it difficult to know what they're up to. If your child is being cyberbullied, you may not even know it. Here are three ways to help if they are being victimized.
Talk the talk. Like an iceberg, most cyberbullying happens below the surface. Because it leaves no physical marks, recognizing it can be very difficult. To find out if your child is a victim, open up a dialogue. Begin by asking about online behaviour and whether or not “drama” or cyberbullying is common. From there, ask more direct questions. Remember: this is not a one-time chat. Things change quickly, so check back regularly.
Stay accountable, keep accounts. The internet remembers everything, but the speed at which it moves can make it difficult to see the big picture. If cyberbullying escalates, you and your children should have a record of everything that happens. Encourage your kids to track incidents through screen captures and other electronic methods.
“These days, with apps like Snapchat that instantly erase messages, it's more difficult to be vigilant about record keeping,” explains Nimmi Kanji, director of Telus Wise Internet and Smartphone Education. “But having a record is essential to taking disputes offline and stopping further cyberbullying.”
Seek help. No matter how mature or well-prepared, children should know they have reinforcements when necessary; this could include their parents, responsible older siblings, teachers, or other authority figures and trusted adults. Reassure them you will always offer guidance or a sympathetic ear and be there to support them when they need it. There are also resources like Kids Help Phone that provide free around-the-clock counselling that you can reach out to before a small problem becomes something too big to handle.
Learn more about dealing with cyberbullying online at telus.com/wise. / www.newscanada.com