Parents can be an agent of change
If you are worried about the impact of cyberbullying and relational aggression on your child there are things you can do to help. Parents can be an agent of change by proactively opening conversations about this issue. You can start a conversation by asking your child questions such as these:
- Have you ever received an angry or rude message from someone via email, text or in a game chat room?
- Have you continued to receive hurtful messages after you asked them to stop?
- Were you ever afraid to open an email, text message or go onto a game site for fear of seeing a hurtful message?
- Have you received unwanted sexually explicit photos or suggestions?
The thing is, most kids know the ‘rules’ of how to deflect a bully; block, report and delete. So if they know the rules, why aren’t they following the rules?! This is when underdeveloped critical thinking skills get them into trouble.
Think about your own digital modelling.
As parents it is our responsibility to set rules, boundaries and expectations when it comes to our children’s online behaviour. Consequences must also be enforced when rules and guidelines are broken, just as you would in the real world. What are your values in regards to treating others? If you expect respect, consideration and tolerance, then expect no less of your children. Set the expectations of social behaviour and model this by being a good digital citizen yourself.
Encourage kids to do the right thing. Encourage your child to treat others with respect and to stand up for those who are being targeted. Empathy and tolerance go a long way in reducing the instances of bullying and cyber bullying. Encourage conflict to be solved face to face. When a child can see another’s emotions or signs of stress or sadness, they tend to back down.
Technology is a privilege
Too many youth believe technology is their right. Privileges are earned based on good behaviour and meeting family standards. Enforce integrity and have the strength to restrict or take away online access if digital boundaries are violated. This can be a very tricky thing to do, but it will certainly make an impact.