Everyone wants to protect their kids from cyberbullying, but few parents are even thinking about their child being the bully. What you do now could have a real effect on how they treat those around them online.
Given how rampant cyberbullying is today. you need to take this one seriously.
Monitor all Social Media Usage
No parent would give their kids the key to the car without riding with them to make sure they know what they are doing. Too often we look at the topic of monitoring as an “invasion of privacy” when it is actually an important step in development. We lose our ability to help our kids when we give them unmonitored access to social media sites.
Bark is a great tool for monitoring social media usage and alerting to possible cyberbullying. It doesn’t replace you having regular conversations with your child, but it can be a great tool in your toolbox.
Document Your Expectations
Before your child is let loose on the Internet, you need to clearly explain what your expectations are. This includes what your child can share about themselves and what they can say about other people. Don’t expect your child to know what cyberbullying looks like unless you explain it to them.
Creating a Family Media Plan is the first step in this process, but you can (and should) create more in-depth agreements with your kids.
Model the Right Behavior
If you model bad behavior when it comes to talking about other people, don’t expect your children to act differently. This doesn’t even have to be online behavior. If you treat people around you with something less than respect, your kids may play that out online with their classmates.
In addition, developing compassion for those around them is an important step in developing empathy. Empathy can be a great antidote to cyberbullying. However, you can totally wreck this one by modeling the wrong behavior.
Listen to Other Adults
While you may agree with the other points, this one may seem a bit odd. Just hear me out. I’ve dealt with a lot of families navigating the difficulties of cyberbullying, but there is one constant across all of them. Parents simply refuse to believe that their child is capable of cyberbullying. This makes a productive conversation about cyberbullying between parents nearly impossible.
The answer to this is simple. If another adult accuses (or suggests) your child is guilty of cyberbullying you should take it seriously. You should talk to your child directly about it. Even if you find that your child didn’t do anything wrong, it will open up a chance for you to talk about their online behavior.
We all worry about our children being victims, but we should spend equal time ensuring they aren’t creating them. If you follow these four steps you guarantee that your child will be in a better place than if you just try and ignore it. In addition, you can also put them in a place to have a support system if they do become a victim of cyberbullying.