Online bullying, also known as cyberbullying, has become a growing problem for families in Wisconsin. Not only do children face pressures at school, but they may also deal with criticism online. How can you help your child avoid or stand up against online bullying? Here are five ways to protect your child from cyberbullies, courtesy of our family counselors in Wisconsin.
Have Honest Conversations about the Internet – The Good and the Bad
Your child should be well informed about the internet. Let them know that it can be a resourceful and wonderful place, but it can also be dangerous in certain circumstances. Educate them about how to use the internet safely, and tell them to alert you if they receive any suspicious or hurtful messages. Your child does not need to stay away from the internet completely. You just have to teach him or her how to use it correctly.
Limited the Family’s Social Media Time (Yes, All of You)
Social media dependence among children is at an all-time high. Children aren’t the only addicted ones though. Many adults find themselves in this same category. Lead by example and teach your children that there is more to life than Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. Limit your time and your children’s times online. You may set specific times of the day or week for social media activity, increasing privileges as your child gets older. Find what works best for your family.
Monitor Your Child’s Online Activity
You can respect your child’s privacy and monitor their activity at the same time. For instance, you might allow your child to get on social media, but only on the family computer in the living room. You could also require your children to give you their login information or have a shared social media account until they can be trusted to be on their own. At the very least, check the comments on your child’s posts to look for signs of cyberbullying. If something seems off, have an honest conversation with your child.
Watch for Changes in Behavior and Respond to Them
Online bullying does not always result in large mood swings. Your child may hide his or her reaction to the bullying. Watch for changes in your child’s actions or behaviors. Example: Your child may suddenly hate an outfit he or she once loved. Your child may stop wanting to ride the bus or delete a social media account.
If you notice these changes in behaviors, start by talking to your child. Ask him or her if there are any issues you may not know about – disputes with friends, problems at school, etc. If you have a family counselor or child counselor, you may ask him or her for advice in approaching these topics. Once you confirm the cause of the changes, you can decide how to react. Learn more in Part 2 of this guide.
Boost Your Child’s Confidence When Possible
Boosting your child’s confidence will help him or her combat the effects of online bullying. A confident child is less likely to succumb to hateful comments on the internet. This isn’t to say that confidence is completely preventative. Even the most self-assured people can be hurt by negative remarks. However, self-worth is strength, and you want your child to be as strong as possible.
Check out the second half of this guide where we explain what to do after online bullying.