Cyber Bullying is definitely a social problem specific to this age. Never before have bullies had such easy and far reaching access to their victims. There is growing concern among parents as they try to find a balance for their children between allowing them access to technology that could open the door to cyber bullying or entirely cutting them off in an effort to protect them. It is a tricky situation that requires a lot of wisdom and some very open communication between parents and kids. Learn Why Kids Seem Unconcerned About Cyber Bullying!
Why Kids Are Not as Concerned as Parents
When a parent tries to take a proactive approach to cyber bullying they must proceed with caution. In most cases children become very dependent on their social network and mobile devices, the very tools that cyber bullies use to victimize them. A child or teen may be very hesitant to reveal to their parents that they are having problems in this area because they fear that their parents will simply cut them off from all social networking or take away their mobile devices. They could also be worried that the parent will start monitoring their every move in an attempt to protect them. Both of these options are not attractive to the young person. Kids are showing less of a concern over cyber bullying because they do not want their parents to “go too far” in trying to protect them. Finding a balance between putting your child at risk and cutting your child off from all digital networking is the tightrope many parents are finding themselves on in recent years.
What is the Right Approach?
Dr. Jennifer Claude, an assistant professor at the Department of Family at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, warns parents to not take cyber bullying lightly. ““Kids that are bullied are likely to experience anxiety, depression, loneliness, unhappiness, and poor sleep” In extreme cases some children and teens have even developed clinical depression, eating disorders and suicidal thought patterns. Less obvious signs of bullying can be lack of confidence, and a change in academic performance. Dr. Claude, however, discourages the shock and awe invasion technique that some parents see as a solution. Instead of busting in and cutting off every device or network that your child has been bullied on, she suggest that you first make an attempt to get involved in your child’s cyber lives by becoming their friend on Facebook or joining gaming communities that they are a part of and playing with them. ““Communication with one’s children is the key to bully prevention.” Your child is not going to share with you their concerns about cyber bullying if they are afraid of what your reaction will be.
When you are more involved in your child’s life, both online and off, you are able to make more educated decisions about what will keep them safe. When the child feels that you want to be involved without taking over, they will be more likely to trust you and discuss bullying issues with you. Once this foundation of trust is built, then you and your child can work together to create a more safe, secure cyber experience for them, free of bullying.
What to Do In Extreme Cases
Learning who to weed out of your child’s online interactions is sometimes all it takes to create a more peaceful, bully free cyber environment for your kids. However, there are extreme cases where a bully becomes very persistent toward one victim and insists on taking their harassment to extremes. When this is the case, parents need to be aware of what steps they can take, legally to protect their child from online harassment. If you believe that your child is being a victim on cyber stalking or cyber harassment, there have been laws enacted to address these issues. You can visit The National Conference for State Legislatures at www.ncsl.org to review cyber harassment laws for your particular state. Cyber harassment is a serious legal matter that can result in legal charges. Cyber harassment and cyber bullying are not necessarily the same thing, but all cyber harassment begins with cyber bullying. This is why it is important for parents to take a proactive role in their child’s cyber lives.
Remember, your kids may not always think important things are that important. Do some investigation of your own, and decide for your family what is appropriate or inappropriate cyber behavior.