Do you monitor your kids’ online time? Do you monitor activities on their phone or tablet? Do you pay attention to find out if they have been the victim of cyberbullying or witnessed bullying towards others – or may even be the perpetrators themselves. According to studies 15% of cyberbullied children told their parents about it.
With surveillance technology having come a long way in the past few years, and the advent of Parental Control Apps granting parents an unprecedented control over their kids’ mobile and computer use, there isn’t really anything to worry about, right? Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
According to an online report parents are not monitoring children’s online activities as much as they should, although teaching kids good online citizenship and preventing cyberbullying is crucial.
The main finding of the survey says that half of parents were concerned that their child might be cyberbullying others. It also said that parents who had been bullied were more worried about kids being bullied. Parents of girls were more concerned about cyberbullying than boys (53 per cent to 43 per cent) – when both face the same risk.
Despite the concerns, the study finds parents not addressing the issue of online bullying with kids, with 72% having spoken to their kids about bullying by the age of eight, and 33% had begun to discuss online bullying.
Since interaction is not taking place in most households, there is a misperception among parents that as they have not heard there was no problem. 89% of parents thought their kids would approach them if they had been victimized – with 8% teens saying they told their parents about being cyberbullied. This is harmful as 25% children have a cellphone by grade four and by age 8, 100% of parents should talk about online safety as most kids already are online.
Cyberbullying is like traditional bullying, with differences being the effects of cyberbullying and the nature of perpetrator; the speed of spread; ease of access to peers, and the anonymity of the perpetrator.
Helplessness of the victim comes from not knowing who’s bullying them, it is rarely known how many people have seen or spread the information. One cannot control where it’s posted, and often a web administrator has to remove the information from the site.
“Traditional” bullies do not necessarily engage in cyberbullying, “… the overlap between cyberbullies and kids who do it face-to-face, is about 50%,” says Craig. “…kids who would not bully face-to-face engage in online bullying. It might be the context, and non-realization of the impact of their behavior, contributing to its increase.”
The perception of cyberbullying is aggravated by its nature, which is often shameful and personal. “Often the content of online bullying is about your looks, your sexual behavior, and things vulnerable to self-esteem,” she said.
A different approach is needed by parents with children bullying others online. “First thing is that you sit down with the child and help them understand what happened,” says Craig. “Give them the clear message that this is wrong. And work with them to develop empathy for the bullied person to understand the impact.”
Parents should teach their kids what is appropriate online posting material. “Personal information or photos; your cellphone number, email address or physical address. Personal pictures, pictures of your house are information’s not to share with strangers.”
Parents should familiarize themselves with social media platforms their kids are using, “all these social media platforms can block the person doing the bullying, whether those messages are coming in texts, or email or through social network messaging services.”
“Starting early with a high level of monitoring is very important,” says Craig. “But it always has to be combined with support, warmth and coaching. Because that’s going to make it have more of an effect over time.”