Tips for you and your child to prevent and stop cyberbullying

I am working in digital media industry from last 9 years. I have seen the way how internet has evolved in last few years. I see my 10-year-old nephew spending so much time online -and- alone. I was shocked to know that according to a recent report in US, 52% of students have experienced cyberbullying. Globally, India ranks third in cyberbullying cases.

Nowadays, kids are exposed to world of internet at very young age. And if the child is not cybersmart, he can easily become a victim of cybercimes like cyberbullying and identity theft. I even realized that many parents are shockingly un-aware about importance of internet safety and eSafety tools available. A large number of parents need internet safety education on a priority basis. Therefore, I have taken an initiative to help family to understand key concepts such as child internet safety and strategies to protect kids from cyber bullies, cyber crimes, etc. Wise Netizen (www.wisenetizen.com) is part of this initiative. This website helps parents in process of educating thier kids about internet safety.

“Cyberbullying” is when a child is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, using the Internet or interactive device like mobile phones.

Here are some tips which your family should keep to prevent cyberbullying:

1) Tell your child not to respond to any cyberbullying threats or comments online. However, do not delete any of the messages. Instead, print out all the messages, including the email addresses or online screen names of the cyberbully. You will need the messages to verify and prove there is cyberbullying.

2) Set family internet rules. Example: computer should be placed in family area like living room, usage time.

3) Learn about the warning signs of trouble like disruption of daily schedule, meals, studies drop in grades.

4) In serious case of cyberbullying, take help of local authorities or contact the support team of the website.

5) Start discussing online safety with your child at early age. Make sure that your child understands that he needs to think before he posts any content online. Tell them “If you wouldn’t do it face to face, then he shouldn’t do it online”, “You should be nice with friends on internet the same way you are nice to your friends on playground”.

6) Ask your child about their experience with social media websites and guide them if required. In an intense situation, stay calm and remind your child that it is OK to bring it to your attention. And solve the problem tactfully. Share a bit about your daily Social Media activity, use it in a way to facilitate daily conversation about your child’s online habits.

7) Be active on social media websites. Also monitor your child’s profile.

8) Don’t overreact by blaming your children. If they are being bullied, be supportive and understanding.

9) Don’t threaten to take away your child’s computer if he comes to you with a problem. This only forces kids to be more secretive.

10) Protect the accounts very carefully with the passwords and other information. This will keep the bullies away from gaining access to accounts.

[About Writer: Sonal Pawar (Kadam) is a digital marketing specialist, working in this industry for almost a decade. She loves the way Internet World evolves, this keeps her constantly on her toes. She is the founder of Wise Netizen (www.wisenetizen.com), a website which helps parents in educating their children about Internet Safety. She holds a post- graduate degree in Digital Marketing and Bachelor’s degree in Computers.  You can follow her on Twitter @Sonal4u]

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