The internet is an amazing playground and learning space for kids. But it also has a dark side.
Research figures indicate that around 10% of young people have experienced cyberbullying.
This increasingly common form of bullying happens on social networks, within online games and mobile device apps.
It might involve spreading rumours about someone or posting embarrassing messages, images or videos.
Children may know who’s bullying them online or they may be targeted by someone using a fake or anonymous account.
Cyberbullying, like other forms of bullying, corrodes self-esteem and self-confidence. It can negatively impact mental health and wellbeing.
So, what can parents practically do to protect their children?
We’ve compiled these suggestions for parents and some links to helpful resources:
- Keep internet connected devices in a common area of the home and monitor their usage. Encourage your child to come and talk to you if they see anything that upsets them.
- Investigate how various social networking platforms and commonly used apps work. Become familiar with Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. Ask your children if they will show you their profile pages. It may also help to get acquainted with the latest ‘text talk’ or slang so that you can interpret young people’s content.
- Explain the benefits of privacy settings to make sure only approved friends can see their posts.
- Make use of ‘parental controls’ found within web browsers. There are a wide range of tools which you can install on mobile phones, tablets, games consoles or laptops. Use them to help block or filter the content your child sees when searching online.
- Check if any of their apps have ‘geo-location’ enabled, which may unintentionally share their location. These should be switched off.
- Check ‘tagging’ settings so that when others are posting or sharing photos online, your child’s identity is not revealed.
- Show them how to report offensive comments or block people who upset them.
- Set usage and time limits. Explain your reasons and discuss ground rules for online safety.
- Talk regularly with your children about their online life. Let them know they can come to you for help with anything inappropriate or upsetting. Encourage them not to respond to any abusive comments online.
- If you find evidence of cyberbullying keep and print out all the messages. These can be used as evidence if a situation escalates. Log dates, times and any usernames or email addresses.
Need more information? The following resources may be helpful: