With cyber-bullying on the rise, it’s important for young people to know how to use the Internet safely to help avert bullying problems. Because cyber-bullying can occur almost anytime and anywhere, young Internet users should be on guard concerning their use of emails, texts, chats and social media sites. By learning more about how cyber-bullies operate, parents can also help protect their pre-teens and teens from prospective assaults. The following are ten Internet safety tips that can make navigating the online life easier for your children
Recognizing Cyber-Bullying Attacks
Cyber-bullying is the act of hassling, threatening or humiliating others through the use of online technology. Because contact occurs through the Net, it can be very difficult to learn the true identity of the bully. Cyber-bullies also have the advantage of 24/7 Internet usage to harass their victims and humiliate them publicly for thousands of people to see.
Taunting texts and emails, distorted photos, exposure of personal secrets and the spreading of rumors and lies are just a few of the many tactics used by cyber-bullies. These attacks often come when young people least expect them while at home or in school, making them even more frightening. Because cyber-bullying occurs “behind the scenes,” bullies can often be very abusive and offensive in their anonymous attacks as they know how difficult it is to be caught.
Ten Internet Safety Tips to Protect Your Kids against Cyber-Bullying
As parents, there are safety measures you can take to protect your kids against cyber-bullying. The following ten Internet safety tips offer excellent counsel on how to use the Net wisely to avoid bullying problems. By teaching your kids Internet safety and monitoring their online activity, you’ll be better prepared to handle any eventuality that may arise.
1. Make sure your children never disclose personal information on the Net. This includes having an email address with their full name or posting their address, phone number, birthday, etc. on social media sites. You never know when this information can fall into the wrong hands and be used against them.
2. Passwords are meant for protection and privacy – for this reason, passwords should not be shared with your kids’ classmates and friends. As a parent, you should know your kids’ passwords to the sites they use and be able to gain access if the need arises.
3. Encourage your kids to observe proper etiquette when online, treating people with respect. This includes emails, chatting, texting and posting messages on social sites. Posting offensive messages or comments to or about others can easily lead to being bullied later down the line. If a post or message will embarrass or offend a classmate or friend, better not to say anything at all.
4. Monitoring online usage is a parent’s responsibility and right. This can be best done by keeping the “home” computer in a public place where you can keep an eye on what sites your kids are accessing.
5. As parents, you should learn as much as you can about Internet usage to include sending emails, messaging, chatting, surfing and common acronyms used online. With this knowledge, you’ll be in a better position to advise your kids on computer safety and rights.
6. Set up rules and limitations for Internet usage according to your child’s maturity level and age. Make a list of the friends your kids regularly communicate with and become familiar with who they are. Set up time frames for going online and parameters for what sites your kids are and aren’t allowed to visit.
7. Install tracking software such as WebWatcher on your home computer to help monitor what sites your kids visit. Let them know you are using this software to encourage them to stay within the guidelines agreed upon..
8. Prohibit your kids from communicating with strangers online. Talk about the dangers of revealing personal information to people they don’t know or starting casual conversations with strangers online. Encourage them to refuse invitations from strangers to join a social media or chat sites and to let you know if such invitations continue.
9. Have your kids get your approval before sharing personal photos or videos online. Once these have been posted, keep track of the comments posted about your material and be ready to talk about any negative responses that may arise.
10. Teach your kids how to be sure to report cyber-bullying activities to your Internet provider as well as the website where your kids were targeted.
These ten Internet safety tips can help save you time, money and frustration in handling bullying problems online. You may not be able to stop every attack, but you can arm yourself with Internet safety measures that can help counter cyber-bullying activity and keep your kids out of danger and harm.