How to Protect Your Children from Cyberbullies
Discussions about cyberbullying should happen in all homes, hopefully before an incident of cyberbullying makes the discussion necessary. However, for many tweens and teens, cyberbullying is an uncomfortable topic. For kids who have already been victims of attacks online, discussing cyberbullying can be even more anxiety producing.
The key is to make it clear to your children that you are available to talk and willing to take their concerns seriously. Be sure to include your teen in deciding how best to handle any potential cases of cyberbullying and assure him that you are working toward the same goal.
Also include information in your Digital Family Policy regarding what steps the family can take should a child become the victim of cyberbullying, including limiting social media activity, changing social media accounts, or parents monitoring technology use.
Although not all schools have policies regarding students and cyberbullying, contact your child’s teachers and school administrators if you believe that your child is being cyberbullied. Many schools offer resources to help parents navigate this unfamiliar territory and may even assist parents in contacting local police if the bullying behaviors reach a criminal level.
Contact the police immediately if your child receives a physical threat or otherwise threatening communications. Be sure to save all communications that you believe are evidence of cyberbullying. You may also want to capture screen images of online cyberbullying on blogs and social media, because the cyberbully may remove or change those pages before the police can see them.
Check out the Cyberbullying Research Center to find out what laws your state has regarding cyberbullying. Know your state’s laws regarding cyberbullying, including state-by-state guidelines for reporting.
Use blocking features to prevent cyberbullying
Many incidents of cyberbullying occur via social media, where blocking features can help teens avoid contact from the people who are doing the bullying. Facebook allows users to choose who can see their information, including status updates, Wall posts from Friends, and photos.
Your teen can make nearly all her information visible to Friends only and can even block certain users by their account name or e-mail address. Twitter also allows users to protect their status updates and individually approve who can see those status posts. Additionally, Twitter allows users to block other users, prohibiting them from sending messages via Twitter to the blocking user.
Parents may also work with their phone service providers to block contact from specific phone numbers, both via text and voice.