In the ever-changing world of technology, and with children becoming involved in tech and social media earlier and earlier, one of the most crucial places we need to be sure they are protected is online. In an effort to help give parents another resource in preventing cyberbullying, stalking, and online identity theft, we’ve provided a list of ten things you can do to help your children safely navigate the world of social media and the internet.
Ten Ways to Help Your Child Avoid Being a Victim of Online Bullies.
1. Lock it up. Protect all passwords and personal information online. Be sure your child knows never to give out this information out to anyone (anyone!) and store it in a safe place.
2. Friend or Foe. Let your child know that they should never be opening emails, texts or messages from people they don’t know or addresses they don’t recognize. They should be deleted immediately and without opening them. If it’s important, they’ll find another way to get in touch.
3. Privacy please. Take advantage of online privacy controls. Be sure to set controls on your kid’s accounts. Be sure that everything is password protected and marked private where possible. Be sure that online profiles on sites such as Facebook are viewable only to those who are approved by you or your child. Be sure that they know to ONLY approve people they know in “real life”.
4. Disconnect. Make sure your child is logging out after every session online. Don’t save passwords on web sites or in your web browser for convenience.
5. The Parent Test. Ask them to think for a moment before they post a photo of themselves on social media, or send one in a text, is it something they would be okay with showing you? If the answer is no, it’s probably not something they should be sharing online. Pictures don’t just go away, and people can easily copy what you post and use it to cause all sorts of problems.
6. Blocked. If someone whom your child does not know attempts to contact them or tries to give them a hard time, they should ignore the person. Be sure they know not to respond in any way. If possible, block the person on whatever forum they are contacting you.
7. Let it go. If someone is being mean to your child online, tell them to ignore it. Make sure they know NOT to retaliate. Many times, the lack of response alone is enough to stop the incidents from recurring.
8. Capture it. If ignoring them doesn’t work, capturing the information might. The good thing about technology in the case of harassment and bullying is that it can also benefit the victim. Save any texts or messages sent. Print out any emails that contain offensive or threatening material. Your kids can also screenshot any inappropriate, threatening or intimidating material sent via social media or text on their smart phone and present it to the appropriate people (parents, school staff, or even police) when the time is necessary. Together with your child, check the terms of service for whatever site(s) they are making contact through, and report any violations right away.
9. Communicate. Keep the lines of communication open. Tell your kids that they can come to you anytime with anything and you will assist them, and mean it.
10. Do unto others. Make sure your kids are using proper and appropriate online demeanor themselves. Monitor online activity, especially for younger kids. Know what social media accounts they have, and know their passwords. Be sure to go over the rules of using the internet often with your children. The internet is a wealth of entertainment and information for those who use it wisely. Be sure your kids are having the best online experience possible.
*photo credit: Fixer Sophie Thorne via photopin (license)