What Parents Can Do
Tips for parents to help their kids with cyberbullying:
- The most critical safeguard is knowing what your kids do on the Internet. Ask them to show you what they do online. Ask to see their profiles. Open communications. Look at their Internet applications on their smart phones.
- Let kids know from the beginning that you are going to keep an eye on their Internet use for their safety. Keep the computer in a public room, with the screen visible. Limit online access to times parents are around.
- Blocking and monitoring software can be helpful, especially with younger kids who need only a few child-friendly websites. But don't rely on technical solutions. Young people can get around it as easily as borrowing a cell phone or going to a friend's house.
- Make sure kids know they can come to you for help if they get in over their heads on the Internet. Listen calmly and never react negatively when they are being honest
- Teach your kids empathy. Nothing drives home a point faster than walking a mile in someone else's shoes. If your kids truly understand what someone else is going through, they're less likely to bully someone or passively witness others being bullied.
- Help kids understand the line between funny and cruel. Kids' online communication is often purposely ambiguous or accidentally cruel which can lead to misunderstandings. If trouble does start, ask your kid to call or speak face to face with their friend to clear it up.
- Make sure they talk to someone (even if it's not you). As kids enter the middle school years, their circle of friends and trusted adults widens. Kids need a responsible adult to confide in such as their school counselor, their music teacher, even the parent of a friend. Talk to your kid about who they can go to if they need to talk to someone.
- Help your kid not to be a bystander. Kids are hesitant to get involved, in case the bully turns their sights on them. But there are ways to allow your kid to work behind the scenes to reach out to the victim, get an adult involved, and prevent more cruel behavior.
- Show your kid how to stop it. Tell kids not to respond or retaliate. Not feeding the bully can stop the cycle. If anything does happen, save the evidence.