For many parents who did not grow up with the Internet, learning how to parent digital kids is a constant struggle. One of the biggest threats for pre-teens and teens on the internet is cyber bullying – repeated verbal abuse through instant messages, emails, and social networking sites. What makes cyber bullying so dangerous is that adults can’t see or hear the abuse, so cyber bullies go unpunished and victims are left to face the threats alone. In fact, only one out of ten children tells their parents if they are threatened online. (Journal of School Health)
While representatives in Congress are trying to push through bills to protect children from cyber bullying, there are steps parents can take right now to prevent their children from being involved in these attacks. Ellen Ohlenbusch, mom and President of McGruff SafeGuard (www.GoMcGruff.com), a company that provides free software to help parents monitor and supervise their children’s activity online, has put together 10 tips for parents to keep their children safe from cyber bullying.
Please find Ellen’s tips below. Feel free to use this information as you see fit.
TOP 10 TIPS FOR PREVENTING CYBER BULLYING
1. Keep computers in an open area – not in a child’s bedroom
2. Tell kids to keep passwords safe, private and difficult to guess – no pet names as passwords!
3. Don’t allow your child to maintain multiple accounts with alias names
4. Teach children to respect others online, as they would in person
5. Discuss bullying and the emotional impact it creates
6. Discuss what content is and is not appropriate to share online
7. Tell kids that what they post online is “out there” forever – they can’t control how other people will use their photos or information
8. Discuss how ‘piling’ on is not appropriate. That while they may not start something, if they see cyber bullying happening, they should not contribute.
9. Set a clear standard/example for your children to follow
10. Install a parental monitoring software that sends email alerts if cyberbullying is detected.