This week is Anti-Bullying Week across the nation. All schools and all children are vulnerable to bullying and this is not a new phenomenon. What has changed in relatively recent times however is, of course, the power of electronic means of communication and therefore the growth of cyber-bullying across the world.
Technology is constantly on the increase, meaning the people behind the screens are becoming younger and younger. Children can sign up to social networking sites from as young as 13 for Facebook and Twitter.
As a parent, it can be difficult to keep track of your child’s presence online. It is normal for children not to communicate with their parents who they talk to online and what they are looking at. This can lead to parents not recognising when their child is being bullied online until it becomes an overwhelming problem.
Cyber bullying is not transparent, the person behind the screen may not be who they appear as online. It may also be unclear whether it is an individual person or a group of people that are involved. It is crucial for children and teenagers to be mindful how they come across online.
When it comes to your child’s online presence, it is important to set the tone with your child and have a supportive conversation about the websites/ apps that they use and what they use it for. This will hopefully encourage them to be more mindful online and realise their presence online can lead to severe consequences.
It may be a good idea for parents to talk through potential cyberbullying scenarios so children and teenagers can understand what it is and how they can identify it. As parents, you should also remind them that if they do not tell you about problems, you are not able to help in a time in need if it occurs.
It is good to keep in regular check-ins and for your child to realise that you do not want to interfere, but you want to ensure that they are keeping safe online and that you can be open to talk to without judgement.
Be mindful online:
- Before you post it is good practise to double check and think about how other people may view it. If you think it will upset someone, is it worth the post?
- You are not going to agree with everything you read online. Before responding or interacting, remember there is someone behind that screen with feelings.
- If you feel angry when typing a message, put down your phone/ step away from your keyboard, take a little walk and breathe deeply then return to the message. Your message will be less emotional and you will be able to put your point across in a level-headed way.
For more information or advice please go to the Cyber Bullying website.