The holidays are here, school is out and chances are good everyone is spending more time online or with family and friends.
This can also mean there can be more exposure to people or trolls online that can be cruel or mean.
Unfortunately mean-people, such as bullies and cyberbullies, don’t take holidays or vacations. On the contrary, they are the type of individuals that are on the clock 24/7 – 365 days a year.
Since we know this, it is imperative we also know how to equip not only our children, but ourselves to better handle situations when they happen – especially online.
First there has to be a clear understanding that no-one is immune to harassment or bullying – whether it is online or off. Anyone can be a target of another person’s cruelty.
- Never engage with the bully or the person that is harassing you. Never have any of your friends retaliate in your defense.
- Save, copy, print out — any evidence. Print screen can be the easiest way.
- Block and report the person to the social media site you are using.
- Never meet anyone in person.
- Tell someone you trust. Hopefully a parent or a trusted adult.
According to Cyberbullying Statistics for 2021, 52% of teens report having been a victim of cyberbullying. Sadly, only 33% of those victims have reported bullying to parents or another adult. A recent European study showed that over half of teens view some level of cyberbullying as a normal part of online life. By having open and frequent face-to-face chats with your child about digital citizenship, hopefully we can eliminate this opinion of cyberbullying.
We need to understand why kids don’t tell their parents.
1) Fear of consequences: Your child’s online existence is a critical part of their social life. With all their friends online, being excluded would be devastating them. They don’t want to risk you banning them from their friends and their digital lives.
2) Humiliation and embarrassment: Our kids are human and have feelings. Although some kids portray a tough persona and believe they are invincible, deep down everyone feels hurt by cruel keystrokes. Your child may fear looking stupid or weak. If the incident gets reported to their school, will they be able to face their classmates and campers? Imagine the horror of a child hearing from peers after being bullied that they somehow deserved it, brought it on themselves or should have just toughened it out rather than be a snitch.
3) Fear of making it worse: We have taught our children well so they understand that bullies are looking for attention. By reporting the incident of cyberbullying to a parent, your child may fear it could anger the bully and make matters worse for them online. In some cases bullies will enlist more online trolls to cyber-mob your child. Of course the child’s dreaded fear is his or her parent reporting it to their school or camp and more people knowing whereby they become a possible target in the future.
These are some reasons why we need to continue with offline parenting communication to empower online safety of our children to make better choices and come to us when they have problems or otherwise.
Never stop chatting with your child about their digital lives. It is just as important as their everyday life. Today cyber-life is their everyday life. If parents would treat these lives equally – we hopefully will have more of an open dialogue for digital communications on all ends.
Your children can also mentor you in the tech-world – in many ways, kids can be more cyber-savvy than us – let’s make it a holiday gift to learn from each other. Learn more about their apps and their lives – offline and on. You want them to come to you if they are struggling online or off.