Social media and the digital technology is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, with our kids leading the charge as the first generation of ‘digital natives’. But do you know what your kids are really being exposed to and how to give them the right support?
You’ve probably heard the term ‘cyberbullying’ in the media quite a bit lately. If you’re not sure what it means, cyberbullying is deliberate, repeated and hostile behavior intended to harm others via technologies such as text messages, social networks and email. It’s dangerous because it can be public, easily distributed and hard to take down.
As most cyberbullying takes place at home, it's important to know that you can help prevent it. Start by talking to your kids about the issue. Let them know that they can tell you if it’s happening to them, or someone they know and not lose computer/phone privileges – this this is often a big reason why kids stay quiet.
If you suspect that your child is being cyberbullied but is reluctant to tell you, look for these telltale signs:
- Your kids stops playing games online or using the phone
- They are mysteriously absent
- They spends their evenings avoiding going online and appear nervous when text messages pop up
- Unexplained/unusual bad behaviour
So what can we as parents do to help? According to the Australian Government’s CyberSmart initative, here are a few tips to help your children stay cybersafe:
- Always be as polite online as you are in person
- Never give out personal information online
- Never tell anyone but your parents your password (not even BFFs)
- If you’re sent a mean or threatening message, don't respond, but DO tell an adult
- Never open emails from a sender you don't know
- If you know someone is a bully, don’t open a message from them if you’re not expecting one
- Don't put anything online that you wouldn't want your classmates to see – this includes emails and private messages
- Block bullies if they’re sending you messages, or stay offline for a while
- Help kids who are bullied online by not joining in and alerting an adult
To learn more about cybersafety or for more useful links and resources on the issue, visit http://www.cybersmart.gov.au.
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