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How Do I Protect My Young Child from Cyberbullying?

Topics: Cyberbullying
Q&A

Once young kids can communicate with others on their devices, a range of new social opportunities open up for them online. If your kids are texting their friends or using social features on apps or games, they could be exposed to name-calling, teasing, or cyberbullying. And you can help them by explaining the basics of kind, responsible, and safe online behavior.

Here are some ways to protect your child from cyberbullying:

  • Have clear rules about interacting online.
  • Talk about which private information should not be shared. This includes full name, date of birth, gender, home address, school name, and family members' names.
  • Set limits and supervise online activities closely, while still supporting your child as they become more independent.
  • Choose high-quality, age-appropriate entertainment. At their age, it isn't appropriate to watch anything that models negative behavior without lessons or consequences. Encourage your kids to respect different experiences and identities by watching and playing diverse movies, shows, games, and apps.

You can also help them learn how to recognize and respond to cyberbullying:

  • Explain to your kids what cyberbullying is. It's repeated and unwanted mean or hurtful words or behavior that happens online.
  • Practice respectful communication and boundaries (like "don't be mean to others"). Also teach them to be kind and compassionate. These skills will come in handy both on- and offline.
  • Let them know that supporting a friend who is being bullied can make a big difference.
  • If they think they're being bullied, your kids should follow the steps of STOP:
    • STOP using the device.
    • TELL an adult who you trust what happened.
    • Get the OK from an adult before going back on the app or website where the bullying happened.
    • PAUSE to think about how you feel. After talking to an adult, would it be helpful to talk to the person who was being mean?
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