Talk to Your Kids about Cyberbullying
While understanding cyberbullying is a great first step towards prevention, it remains important for you to talk to your children directly about cyberbullying. The following are some guidelines to assist you in leading a family discussion regarding this sometimes uncomfortable topic.
Discuss the definition of cyberbullying including how your child can spot cyberbullying behaviors. Cyberbullying includes sending mean, hurtful, or threatening messages through an electronic form of communication. It can include the posting of embarrassing pictures of the victim and pretending to be someone online.
Review the appropriate steps to take if your child believes he is being cyberbullied including stopping return communications, keeping the communications to show an adult, and going to an adult to report the incident. Be sure to create and communicate very clear rules regarding when your children must come to you and report something that has happened to them online.
Remind children that The Golden Rule applies online just as it does in real life. Asking children to treat one another online the way they wish to be treated goes a long way in helping to prevent inappropriate online behavior.
Explain the potential long-term and even legal consequences of cyberbullying in order to clearly communicate the seriousness of the topic.
Create and communicate guidelines for your family’s online behavior. Just as each family has unique rules for everything from television watching to playdates, your family should set rules for online interactions.
Create and communicate clear consequences for breaking online rules. It is just as important to prevent your child from cyberbullying as it is to protect them from being cyberbullied. Consequences for online rule breaking are a key part of your family’s discussion of cyberbullying.
Set clear boundaries for technology use in your home including where and when technology can be used. Do not hesitate to make different rules for older and younger kids and include these evolving policies in your discussion.
Ask your children if they have ever been cyberbullied and how you can help them feel safer online including creating password protections on cell phones and other devices.
Remind your children that the lines of communication in your family are open, and that they can come to you any time with questions and concerns.