How do I protect my young child from cyberbullying?
The ability to read, write, and communicate with others opens up new online social opportunities for kids. If they're using social features on apps, on mobile devices, or in online games, they could be exposed to name-calling, teasing, or cyberbullying, but explaining the basics of kind, responsible, and safe online behavior will help protect them. It also can be helpful to remember that cyberbullying is fairly rare, so although it's important for kids to be prepared, there's no need to scare them.
Here are more ways to protect your child from cyberbullying:
- Choose quality, age-appropriate entertainment. Anything that models negative behavior without consequences or lessons isn't appropriate.
- Review which personal information should not be shared (name, home address, parents' names, whether you're a boy or a girl).
- Chat should be pre-set or "canned" (kids select phrases from a list rather than free-type).
- Set limits and supervise online activities very closely, while simultaneously building independent skills.
- Cultivate the qualities of kindness and compassion. These will come in handy both on- and offline.
- Encourage acceptance of and respect for people who are different by exposing your child to media that includes people of different backgrounds.
If they think they're being bullied, your kids should follow the rules of STOP:
- STOP using the computer.
- TELL an adult you trust what happened.
- Get the OK from an adult before going back online or returning to the website where the bullying happened.
- PLAY with other kids who don't take part in cyberbullying.
Lastly, your kid may want to tell the bully how his or her actions made him or her feel, after getting advice from an adult.