The challenges of parenting have changed drastically over the years. The technological boom has facilitated the rise of a new threat called cyberbullying, which parents must now learn to navigate. One thing, however, remains timeless – our care and concern in wanting the best for our children.
In this article, we take you through 3 tips on steps you can take to protect your child from cyberbullying.
1. Maintain Open Communication.
A 2014 study conducted in Singapore found that only 3% of cyberbullying victims told their parents about their problems. This small percentage was due to, among other reasons, children’s fear of getting into trouble, and getting ignored by their parents.
Parents are important pillars of support for their children. You want your child to feel comfortable telling you about their problems so that you can work through it together with them.
Open, honest communication is the first crucial step in building strong relationships grounded in trust – so your kids can feel secure in opening up about their troubles with you. Let your children know that you are aware of this issue, and you want to know if they are going through such troubles. Reiterate that it’s okay for them to share and that they should not fear being judged by you even if it’s embarrassing to them.
The last thing you would want your child to feel is that they are being judged for their problems.
2. Monitor your Child.
Next, it’s important to keep watch over your children – observe if they have any drastic changes in mood or behaviour, for they could be indicators that they are victims of cyberbullying.
Monitoring your kids’ daily habits and technology use goes a long way in reducing the risk of them being affected by cyberbullying. Setting limits on device and social media use might seem draconian to your kids, but these restrictions ensure that they develop healthy device behaviour and lessens their chance of falling prey to bullying.
Parental control apps are very helpful in allowing you to gain peace of mind even when you’re not by your child’s side. Features such as remote locking and blocking certain applications reduces the opportunity of your child being exposed to nasty cyberbullies lurking on the internet.
3. Respond Appropriately.
Finally, it’s imperative for you as parents to learn how to respond effectively to cyberbullying. If your child tells you that he or she is being cyberbullied, don’t panic. Stay calm and assuring, and methodically work out a plan of action as to what to do next.
In fact, when faced with cyberbullying, the best response is no response. Your child should immediately block the bully on the platforms that he or she is being bullied on, to put a halt to further communication.
Furthermore, should you have a close relationship with your child’s teacher, it may be useful to let the teacher know of the situation, so he or she can manage your child’s emotions and provide any insight to happenings at school. It also may be useful to save copies of all harassing messages your child has received to share with relevant parties, if needed.
As parents, it’s natural to want to protect your child’s safety and well-being. That said, the environment that your children are growing up in is very different to the one you were witness to. Thus, it’s crucial to keep updated with the changing threats that our children may face, to ensure that they lead a happy and healthy childhood.