There are a lot of dangers in the world today, but one of the hardest for parents to understand is online bullying. Many of us grew up without the prevalence of today’s technology, so we never had to deal with these issues. This lack of experience makes it hard for us to understand how to talk to our kids about these dangers. However, this is a very serious problem for our children and we need to have this important conversation to help protect them. So if you are looking for a way to talk to your children about online bullying, here are some pointers.
Learn About Online Bullying
With any important conversation with your children, the best thing you can do it learn about it. If you don’t know where to start, it’s okay. There are a lot of resources available to help you learn about online bullying and tips on how to start the conversation. Some of the resources I’ve found helpful are Cyberbullying Research Center, Safe Kids, and Stop Bullying. Each of these organizations has materials that parents can use as resources to help them better grasp the dangers of online bullying. The more you know about the subject, the more confident you’ll be when it comes time to talk to your children.
Talk To Your Kids
Once you have all the information, it’s time to start the conversation. It may seem like an overwhelming task, but all it takes is simply sitting your children down and talking to them. Ask them what they know about online bullying, if they or something they know has ever been the victim of online bullying, and then ask them their feelings on the topic. From there you can start talking about the dangers they don’t know about and how they can protect themselves online. Online bullying will be an ongoing conversation, so don’t worry if you don’t cover everything in your first talk. The dangers will change as they grow, so you’ll want to revisit the topic to make sure they are safe.
Continue The Conversation
As children get older and start entering junior high and high school, online bullying becomes more of a threat in their lives. There will also be new technologies, social media platforms, and new methods of bullying. So you’ll want to stay informed and keep talking about it as they get older. The more you talk about it, the more comfortable your children will be coming to you if this issue comes up in their lives.
Always Be Available
One of the most important things to do during your conversations on online bullying is to make sure your children know that you are always going to be available to talk. In most cases, online bullying happens without parents even knowing until it is too late. A lot of the times it is because children are afraid to come to their parents because they are embarrassed or even believe they deserve it. Make sure you emphasize that you will always talk to them without judgment, that you will listen, and that you will help them no matter the circumstances surrounding the bullying. Make sure if they come to you, you are available to talk and foster a space where they feel safe telling you everything. Being there for your children is the most important part of helping them face this danger.
Teach Your Children The Basics Of Cybersecurity
A lot of online bullying comes from people’s technology being hacked. Some simple security measures can teach your children how to avoid this particular peril. Here are some things you should teach your child:
- How to pick strong passwords for their social media accounts
- Why they should never share their passwords
- To always turn down friends requests from strangers
- How to unfriend and block people on social media
- What is appropriate to post and how to adjust their sharing privacies
These simple things will help prevent your child’s personal information being hacked and used against them. Also, always make sure you have all of their passwords and account information, so if you need to, you can check to make sure no one is harassing them.
Set Clear Boundaries
The final part of the conversation is the toughest. You need to teach your children they should never participate in online bullying themselves. Even the nicest children are susceptible to peer pressure and may be afraid if they stand up against bullies, they’ll be their next target. Your children may find themselves in a situation where they know they are doing something wrong and hurtful but they are afraid of what will happen if they don’t participate. Make sure that they know it is unacceptable to participate in online bullying no matter the circumstances and that if they feel pressured to participate, they need to come to you and ask for help to get out of the situation.
Incorporate Positive Reinforcement
If your children are younger and just learning about online bullying, you can help them develop good values with positive reinforcement. By encouraging them to take a stand and have a positive online presence, you can ensure that as they get older, they’ll help other children who are struggling with online bullying. One way I found to positively reinforce good behavior is through the power of Santa’s naughty or nice list. Santa hates bullies and loves children who help others stand up to bullies. Let children know they’ll make Santa’s nice list if they avoid online bullying. Also, if they are being bullied, making Santa’s nice list can help them understand that the bullies are wrong and that they are safe and loved. So make sure to sign them up for a free personalized nice list and a special greeting from Santa Claus.
Online bullying is a tough topic, but if you start talking to your children early, you can help them avoid the pitfalls. Check out some of these great resources on online bullying and help your kids navigate their online presence.