Internet safety, cyberbullying and bullying is a major concern for people of all ages.
Whether you're tween is being harassed online or in school, or maybe a teenager that is being mocked on Facebook or any social media platform, as a parent it's your job to try to be involved as much as possible. This isn't always easy, which is probably why it's topping the highest health concern among parents according to a new national poll.
Each year, the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health asks a national sample of adults to identify health topics that are a “big problem” for children and teens.
The number one concern parents stated was cyberbullying/bullying at 61 percent with internet safety at 55 percent.
Communication is key
We understand that talking with our children is crucial when it comes to online safety. Are you someone that believes your child is more tech-savvy than you are? Use that to your advantage, ask them to teach you about apps and other things you want to learn on your device. You must engage with your child and you must become an educated tech-savvy parent. This is parenting in today’s generation.
It's almost a weekly occurrence to read about youth that are taking their lives due to bullycide. Don't allow these stories to go in vain, discuss them with your child. Let them know they are never alone if they are being harassed offline or online. There are also resources for them, such as Crisis Text Line if they can't get you immediately.
Short chats are better than no chats (or long ones)
With short chats, we can have small doses of how you can better protect your children from online cruelty or scams and reminders on safe sharing through daily cyber-intakes of information that can empower them to make better digital decisions when you aren't around.
C - Communication is key. Offline parenting will promote online safety. Never stop talking about your child's daily lives online. It is just as important as how their day was at school.
H - Help is always a call/text away. Be sure your child knows you are available to them no matter what. They should never have to fear you will judge them, especially if they are victim to online harassment. Their safety is your priority - online and off.
A - Action plans. Talk to your child about action plans for cyberbullying. You are your child's advocate and you will be there to help them implement steps to prevent online cruelty. Starting with telling a parent or adult, and continuing with learning how to block and report.
T - Treat others as you want to be treated. It is comes back to that old cliché. It is the most important rule online and off. Always treat people with kindness and compassion.
It is essential to understand that in today's society, teens view their online life as real as their offline one. We must also treat it that way.
Talking to them on a daily basis, even if it is only for a few minutes, about their virtual lives, should become as natural as asking them if they have homework.
As we have polls revealing the concerns parents have about the digital world our kids are living it, they also have to take some responsibility. Being more proactive in learning about cyber-safety including bullying prevention and awareness can help you help your child.
For more information about Internet safety and cyberbullying prevention order Shame Nation: Choosing Kindness and Compassion in an Age of Cruelty and Trolling (Sourcebooks, 2017).