The internet is great and it offers numerous tools for individuals and businesses to make their lives easier, more convenient, and successful. Many feel they could not get by without it and they rely on it as a tool not only in their business and professional lives, but also as a personal tool of communication and social activity.
But, despite all of the glory the internet holds, there are also many dangers of the internet which threaten the safety and well-being of children, as well as adults.
One of these dangers involves cyber bullying, a form of bullying which has reared its ugly head only recently when people began to use the internet more and more. And now, with mobile devices and constant connections to online social media and other outlets, it seems the gap of cyber bullying is closing and this puts kids more at risk.
The best way to handle the problem of cyber bullying is to stop it before it starts by monitoring what kids do online on a regular basis and establishing some guidelines of what is expected of them at the onset.
But this is often not enough. Kids have become more capable of breaking through the technology that is meant to protect them from too much exposure, while parents have become somewhat lax in the means by which they control their kids’ behavior online. Some seem to think that “kids will be kids” and they don’t believe that they will get into any serious trouble with parents within a few feet away. But the statistics speak for themselves.
Other Online Dangers
Approximately 95% of kids who are exposed to pornography online do so inadvertently (by accident) and of that 95%, 36% will become addicted to it after only being exposed to it once or twice. Pornography is just one other danger of the internet that exists for kids who are not monitored by parents and are allowed to surf aimlessly online without direction. It’s fine to let kids explore the internet, but these are just more examples of how kids can get pulled into things they shouldn’t, due to lack of vigilance on the part of caregivers.
Schools are responsible Too
Take heart, parents. You are not alone in this. School also bear the burden of responsibility regarding kids online when it comes to the dangers that the web holds for them. While at school, parents entrust their kids to schools and teachers, to keep them from harm. So it’s time we start holding schools more responsible for what kids get into while on the school grounds. And this includes not only inappropriate media, but also bullying.
How To Avoid Cyber Bullying
One of the best things you can do is to teach kids to avoid contact with people they do not know. A good rule of thumb while online (especially for younger kids) is that if you do not know someone in the ‘real world,’ don’t talk to them online. While it’s true that, as kids get older, the tendency will be more toward meeting and talking to new people online, younger kids should adhere to the “If I don’t know you in real life rule…” for safety’s sake. There are numerous predators online in the guise of someone they know, also, so this makes it doubly important to make sure younger children are told the dangers of the internet at an early age.
Even scarier than the ongoing threat of cyber bullying is the increasing likelihood of sexual predators being online at some of the sites where your child spends their time. This is an even stronger reason as to why kids must be warned to take precautions regarding talking or communicating with people they do not know. Even in some cases when they know the individual, they must still be cautious regarding any contact with them if they act suspiciously toward them at any time. Enforce upon your child that any strange behavior must be reported to you first, and then you will decide whether or not the behaviors warrant further action, such as reporting it to your school or local law enforcement.
Action Equals Reaction
The more people take action against bullying and child predators on any level, the more the reaction from others will be that they will take you seriously. Doing nothing will always lead to repeated bullying incidents and the cycle will continue. If people know the policies involved in your schools and communities regarding bullying, there will be less of a tendency for these behaviors to continue.
Steps To Staying Safe At Any Age
Older kids are more adept at keeping out of trouble online but some dabble in things which takes them closer to getting into trouble. With older kids who know better, parents may sometimes find it necessary to punish kids or to temporarily take away mobile technology gadgetry from kids who do things which are dangerous online. This sends a clear message from you, the parent, that you will not allow them to engage in risky behaviors which put them into danger online.
Some Risky Behaviors To Avoid
- Starting conversations with strangers you do not know
- Sending phone/text messages to people randomly by their phone number
- Giving out personal, geographical, or other information
- Signing up for things online without first consulting with you
- Using credit cards without permission of a parent
- Playing online games at questionable sites
- Installing suspicious programs which carry malware or spyware
- Hazing or bullying behaviors such as flaming online with other teens or kids
- Posting inappropriate pictures or videos of themselves or others
- Any other behaviors which can lead to altercations or problems with outside people on social media and other platforms
- Uploading You Tube videos of people from school without their permission
Any of the above behaviors can create a slew of problems on many different levels for kids who are engaged in these practices. Not only do such behaviors put themselves at risk, but many put your whole family at risk as well. For example, handing out credit card information or signing up for things which have not been approved by you can lead to having a stolen credit card, or worse, identity theft. This has become an even bigger problem as more “trustworthy” sites have come into question due to the rate at which hackers and scammers have been able to infiltrate high security systems.
To do nothing is not an option. That is admitting failure, and resigning to the idea that nothing can be done. There are many dangers on of the internet for kids and young people today. Some of these involve inappropriate media such as pornography and other things kids do not need to be exposed to. Other dangers involve online predators and others who would try to take advantage of your child. Many take on the guise of someone your child knows and fool them into thinking that they are to be trusted, then to take advantage of their innocent nature. Other dangers involve cyber bullying, which is a new kind of bullying that is growing worse and worse due to the instant and easy access to mobile devices and online social media platforms that kids are exposed to.
But there IS something you can do. You can get involved. If your school or community does not have an active ANTI-BULLYING committee, start one. Find others in your area who want to join you in the fight against these child dangers online and create a group to intervene. Your school counselor should be your number one resource in helping you design a plan to combat bullying in your area.
Nobullying.com is committed to fighting against all types of bullying and child maltreatment, whether it is online or offline. The key to being able to help victims of bullying avoid being repeatedly victimized is to stand up and speak out against bullying, no matter when or where it occurs.
There are many dangers of the internet which parents and schools alike should be aware of and they should never assume that their child will not be exposed to such dangers if they are allowed to have full reign of the internet.
Parents should be vigilant regarding sites their child visits and activities they are engaged in online, so that they will have a sense of what their child is exposed to while on the internet.
More education is the key but it is also important for schools and parents to team up and be determined to take on bullying, wherever it occurs. With continued efforts to stand up against cyber bullying and other internet dangers, our children will be safer, and the whole world will be a better place because of our efforts.