Earlier this year I posted two blogs on cyber bullying (HOW TO HELP YOUR KIDS and WHAT PARENTS NEED TO KNOW). Now I want to take another look at cyber bullying in light of some recently announced Facebook changes and a new study I discovered on the impact of cyber bullying that I believe every parent should know about.
First a word about Facebook
As a parent, I understand how challenging it can be to keep up with all your kids schedules let alone all the new changes that Facebook is making to their polices. That’s why I want to share this information with you. To help your children safely navigate the big wide world of Facebook, you need to be aware of these important Facebook policy and privacy changes.
According to The New York Times, Facebook says it is just making it easier to “tag” friends in photos, but the company is also deliberately deleting information about specific privacy controls. These changes could make it harder to keep private information from going public, a very real concern for parents like us who want to help keep their kids out of the line of cyber bullies.
That’s why it’s critical for parents to be involved in their children’s online behavior. You need access to all of your child’s passwords. Let him or her know that you will only use them in case of emergency. Also, discuss thinking carefully who they “friend” and how to “un-friend” someone they don’t trust, as well as how to disable options they don’t need or use.
Sure, some kids will gripe about the lack of privacy. But, social media is public, and anything they post (especially “sexting”) can go viral in a second…leaving them wide open to cyber bullying. (Plus, there are also serious dangers of sexual predators and identity theft to consider.)
New study confirms our concerns
Research that has just been released substantiates that parental concern is warranted…and that we need to step up and take action.
The results of a study of 4,200 middle and high school student attitudes to cyber bullying and online safety was recent published in the International Journal of Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments. The researchers found that parental involvement in monitoring Internet activity is low among this group, with only about a third of middle school and 17% of high school students reporting that their parents monitor them online. That leaves two-thirds of middle schoolers and 83% of high schoolers totally unmonitored. That’s only the beginning. The researchers also found that students had little or no knowledge of Internet safety.
What’s a parent to do?
Of course, you can limit the time your children spend on technology, including smart phones, laptops, and tablets. Get them to play outside, read a book, go for a walk with you, participate in a sport, or even try a good old fashioned board game.
Remind your children to regularly change passwords and not to give out any personal information and data over the Internet (like entire names, cell phone numbers, home addresses, passwords, etc.). The Better Business Bureau reports that everyone needs to keep limit the information they post on social profiles, which is a good reason to review that information with your children and check out their privacy settings (especially on Facebook).
Most importantly, parents need to be aware of the signs that a child has experienced cyber bullying (or is doing the bullying).
I want to remind parents of the indications of cyber bullying. They include (but are not limited to):
- Not wanting to go to school (or feigning illness to stay home)
- Acting stressed out
- Having bad dreams
- An unexpected stop in computer use
- Appearing nervous when a text message appears
- Becoming abnormally withdrawn from usual friends and family members
Cyber bullying presents new challenges where the bully can be anonymous and the bullying can happen anytime, 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Our children and teens need to be reaching out to parents when cyber bullying happens so they don’t feel so alone.
If you’re looking for ways to discover if your child is being cyber bullied or bullied and how you can help, please sign up for my free gift to you located here on my website. You’ll receive a chapter of my new book, “Is Your Child Really Fine? How to know and How to help.” I will share how I discovered my children were being bullied when they were telling me they were “fine.”