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How to Talk to Your Kids About Cyber Bullying

Let’s face it – all of these conversations about “cyber bullying” can go in so many different directions. Many parents “assume” that their kids already know what is acceptable or not in the online world. So many parents think, “my kids would never do that”. Do you give a new driver the keys to a car, without any education, a license, a driver’s test? Probably not. The phone should be treated the same way. The smart phones are the #1 gifts for kids today, and the average age is getting younger (10-11 year olds approximately). Does the average parent sit down and educate themselves about the phone, the apps that are available, privacy vs public settings, the internet? Probably not. The adolescents today know more than the parents when it comes to these gadgets so they just accept the phone and go on their merry way.

Taking the time to educate your child about cyber space, including cyber bullying will reduce their chances of becoming a victim. How can one educate someone on a topic that they know little about? Knowledge is power and it is time to get ahead of our children when it comes to cyber awareness.

Here is a guide for parents:

Before any conversations (parents)

Educate yourself on the phone/device (know how apps are used, how passwords are set up, privacy settings created)

Utilize resources available online

Consider setting up monitoring devices on your phones to help follow your child’s social media usage

How to talk to your child

Timing is everything – make sure you are not in a hurry, no one is having a rough day

Set up guidelines and rules (the parents are paying these bills so they are in control)

Show examples of inappropriate and appropriate behavior online

Explain the importance of knowing your child’s password

Explain “following” – parents, coaches, teachers, youth leaders will want to follow the kids. If you write it, you own up to it!

Show case studies of cyber bullying incidents (you can google this to see all of the suicide victims out there – very depressing, yet eye opening)

Discuss the signs of someone being bullied (withdraws from social events, does not log on to social media as often as they used to, seems upset and angry more easily, losing or gaining weight from being depressed, grades are slipping, absent from school often)

Discuss consequences (colleges monitoring new applicants, employment opportunities could be hindered, school policies could be violated which leads to suspension or expulsion)

Discuss the law for your state (cyber bullying, cyber stalking, harassment)

Sexting is “not the norm”. These pictures could land someone on their state’s Sex Offender Registry

Encourage your child to stand up to bullies and put a stop to it (report behaviors to parents, teachers, or an adult they can trust), save the evidence (through screen shots and videos)

Lead by example! Parents – take more of an interest in the cyber world today. It will pay off in the long run for you and your child!

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