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A Comprehensive Cyberbullying Guide For Parents – Part Two

How to Prevent Cyberbullying.


Cyberbullying is becoming a matter of increasing concern. Thankfully, it has been brought to the public awareness and there are a number of steps that can be taken to prevent its occurrence.

The role of a parent is to be in touch with the emotions and thoughts of the child or adolescent, and to notice if the child is depressed or otherwise acting strangely. If your child actually says to you that they are being bullied online or in school, then you can consider yourself quite lucky. The majority of adolescents and children never admit it to their parents, and statistics show if they do tell someone, it is more likely to be peers or siblings. Males are less likely to confide in anyone when they are being bullied. There could be a large number of reasons why the person is acting the way they are acting aside from cyberbullying. The first step is always identification of the issue. And the earlier that the activity is identified and brought under scrutiny, the better. You may have to ask your child if they are being bullied. Or you can ask the teacher, who also has a responsibility to report these events in the school, where they originate.

RELATED: A Comprehensive Cyberbullying Guide For Parents Part One.

Depending on the age of the child or adolescent, the best preventative measure may be to restrict technology to as large an extent as possible. There is an increasing amount of evidence to suggest that children under the age or 7 or so should not have too much access to any kind of technological device. The fact is that these devices increase the chances of cyberbullying, and the online world is simply not a place that the child is ready for. Additionally, there could be multiple adverse health consequences to having children and adolescents using these types of technological devices for extended time periods. Because of the rate at which technology is progressing and the recency of digital devices, there have been no longitudinal studies conducted on the consequences of continued exposure to smart phones, WiFi, iPads and other types of technology. Young children in particular should be massively restricted in the use of such devices.
An alternative to restricting devices outright is to restrict the sites that are allowed to be viewed by your child or adolescent. You can do this at the level of your internet service provider, which means that all devices that use your home internet must follow its rules in relation to what sites are restricted. This is similar to what happens in corporations which have lists of allowed sites and rules regarding downloading particular files and applications. If you are buying your child a smartphone, there are a number of parental control applications that can be downloaded on the phone. Keepers is an application that notifies parents about suspicious or harmful messages and also includes a tracking device to show the child’s location in real time. It is actually very easy to put controls in place to prevent children from accessing particular sites. There are few technical barriers to doing this. These controls include:

Using parental controls on video game consoles. Players often talk to and message each other in video games. Set up an account for your child, limiting who they can talk to and monitor the content of particular games.
Becoming familiar with parental controls of all social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Teaching your children about these controls. It is easy to block other people on social media sites, video games consoles and even phone calls. If your child feels bullied online, tell him or her to simply block that person. Emails addresses can also be blocked.
If somebody has hacked your child’s account and is pretending to be them online, you can change the password or contact the site itself and report the behavior. Most recognized sites are quite helpful when it comes to security issues.

Aside from cyberbullying, it can be a good idea to set up guidelines for children and young adults to follow in general when using technology. These guidelines could include information on storing passwords, being careful about whom is contacted, refusing to accept friend requests from strangers, not using the phone late at night, not using the phone when driving or doing other tasks and not giving away email addresses, date of birth or names online or offline. It is also a good idea to set an example to children and adolescents. This is because they often take cues from their parents, and follow their lead. These habits and examples can follow them for the rest of their lives, so it is good to follow best practices early on to prevent any incidents down the line.

One of the best ways to ensure online protection for a child or young adult is with a high quality Virtual Private Network (VPN). These VPN’s are now very easy to setup and are quite cheap. What they do is encrypt network traffic, so hackers are not able to spy on the child or student when they are online. It will also hide information from ISP’s so that their data is not harvested and sold by commercial entities, and also hides information from sites which try to gather data on all online activity. There is currently a wide variety of VPN options available to customers and they all have configurable settings for maximum protection. Teaching a child how to use a VPN is possibly one of the best things they can get familiar with in terms of online security and is a technology that will help them for years to come.

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