Online bullying is a tough subject for most moms to approach. Growing up most of us didn’t really have to deal with issues of online bullying, so it can be hard to understand how to talk with your kids about it. Yet this is an incredibly serious issue facing our kids that has lead to some tragic ends. So it is an important conversation to have with your children. Here is how to go about teaching your children about online bullying.
Learn About The Dangers Of Online Bullying
The best thing you can do is arm yourself with all the knowledge you can about online bullying. If you don’t know where to start it’s okay. There are plenty of resources that can help. Organizations like the Cyber bullying Research Center, Safe Kids, and Stop Bullying all have campaigns that can help mothers learn more about cyber bullying. Once you’ve learned what the dangers are, then you can teach your children about them.
Start The Conversation
Next you need to start the conversation with your children. Simply begin by sitting your child down one day and talking to them about it. Ask them what they know about online bullying, if they or someone they know has ever experienced online bullying, and how they feel about it. From there, you can explain the dangers they don’t know and teach some important tools to keep them safe. Don’t place too much weight on the first conversation. It does not have to be a definitive, comprehensive overview of online bullying. Instead see this first conversation as the start of many.
Since online bullying impacts both children and teens, expect to have several conversations about it over the course of your child’s development.
Keep The Conversation Going
After you’ve had your first talk about online bullying, find opportunities to keep the conversation going. If there is a important news story, a conference at their school about online bullying, or a new technology, use these as opportunities to continue the conversation with your children. The more you talk about online bullying, the more comfortable your children will feel about coming to you if they ever have to deal with it.
Always Be Available
The most important thing to teach your child, is that you will always be available to talk. No matter what happens, you can help them. Many times online bullying goes on without parents even knowing because their children are so afraid of disappointing their parents, they will put on a brave face and not tell them what’s going on. Make sure that you emphasize how important it is they always tell you the truth about what is happening with their peers and that you will never be disappointed in them. If you make sure you are always available, your children will feel safe coming to you if they are being bullied online.
Teach Your Children CyberSecurity
One of the most overlooked parts of online bullying is teaching our children about the importance of cybersecurity. Cybersecurity can prevent a lot of the ways children bully each other. Some simple security measures can ensure that your child is protected. Make sure you teach your child:
- How to pick a strong password and to never share their passwords with anyone
- How to set a passcode and lock the screen on their phone
- To never accept friend requests from strangers on social media
- How to un-friend and block people on social media
These simple things can prevent your child from getting hacked or having their personal information shared against them. Also make sure that you have all of your child’s passwords and passcodes, so you can make sure that they are not hiding anything that could be a threat.
Teach The Boundaries
We only ever like to think of our children as kind and empathetic, and even if you can never imagine your child participating in online bullying, it’s still important to teach the boundaries. Even the nicest children are susceptible to peer pressure and can find themselves in a situation where they are doing something they don’t believe in just to fit in. So make sure that they know they don’t have to participate in online bullying to fit in. Be sure they understand the consequences of online bullying from hurt feelings to legal problems. Finally, make sure they understand that technology is a privilege and they can lose that privilege any time if they overstep the boundaries. If you help them understand the boundaries, they’ll be less likely to become cyber bullies themselves.
Teaching your kids about online bullying can seem like a daunting task, especially if it is a new subject for you. However with all the great resources, a good dialogue, and some clear rules, you can help your kids understand both the dangers and the consequences of online bullying. So don’t be afraid to sit down and have the talk. With enough communication, over time your child will feel more comfortable talking about the subject with you.