Recently on the Smart Social Podcast, we sat down with Tracy Wright who is a freelance writer from Giggle Magazine to talk about cyberbullying. In this episode, Josh and Tracy share advice for parents whose child may be experiencing cyberbullying or participating in it. Learn what cyberbullying warning signs to look out for and what parents can do before bullying turns into a life-threatening situation.
Listen to this episode on our podcast:
How to Talk About Cyberbullying and Keep Your Kids Safe with Tracy Wright Key Takeaways:
- When it comes to digital safety and cyberbullying, no one is going to protect your children better than you
- Having a dialog with your children helps provide them with a vocabulary and knowledge base around digital safety
- Schools usually have experts and resources that most families will never have. So, if parents suspect their child is being bullied they should inform the school early
5 signs that a student is being cyberbullied:
- There is a noticeable change in their level of anger
- They are quieter
- Tries to find excuses not to go to school
- Spends less time or no longer spends time on the computer or other devices
- Has difficulty sleeping
What should parents do when their child is being cyberbullied?
Dialog with your kids. Having a dialog with your children helps provide them with a vocabulary and knowledge base around digital safety. Talk to your children and teach them how to avoid dangerous situations online and what their limitations are. When it comes to digital safety and cyberbullying, no one is going to protect your children better than you.
It can be difficult for students to understand why they feel so bad when they are the target of bullying. For students being bullied, it can be even more difficult to figure out how to make it stop – especially if they don’t have a vocabulary to use with their parents. When a student is being bullied, they generally become withdrawn and quiet, then over time it progresses. Parents can have regular discussions with their children and should approach the school about an issue if it arises. It’s important to remember that parents are not a “helicopter parent” if they bring attention to an issue that could genuinely be hurting their child or others.
If a child is a little aggressive at school or they’re hurting other students, it’s okay for parents to go to the counselor and share their concerns. Parents should strive to take an approach that is eager to work with their school and remedy the situation. Talking to the school also informs them of the issue, which is important for keeping students safe. Schools usually have experts and resources that most families will never have. So, if parents suspect their child is being bullied they should inform the school early.
What should parents do if they discover that their children is participating in cyberbullying as an aggressor or a bystander?
Parents should be aware that bullying behavior isn’t as black and white as they may think. A student who is aggressive to others has most likely been the victim of bullying – either at home or by other students. Sometimes students bully others because they are looking for an outlet. In some cases, students may bully others without understanding that their actions are bad. Whether they’re the victim, the aggressor, or the bystander, it’s important to work with children to help them overcome their situation.
The key to keeping your family safe is to have an open dialog with your children. Having a healthy dialog is the number one way to protect your children. Do not allow your children to be on any apps if you are not currently on those apps. For example: do not allow your students to be on Snapchat unless you are on Snapchat. Parents need to remember that there is no privacy online because it’s so easy for social media to be shared even if it was intended to remain private.
Parents are the number one safety app. As a parent, there is no outsourcing safety. Safety and monitoring apps don’t have the wisdom that you as a parent have.
What should parents do if cyberbullying has turned into a life-threatening situation?
- Talk to your children about it right away
- As soon as you notice this is a life-threatening situation, contact the police and your child’s school immediately
Where does cyberbullying usually start?
Group chats on social media can become a breeding ground for cyberbullying behavior. Some of the most hurtful content can be found in group chats. Usually negativity will start when students use texting or messaging apps to chat with a large group of people. The difficult thing about cyberbullying is that it can happen 24/7, students can’t escape cyberbullying like they can regular bullying.
Instagram and other social media platforms can be used to exclude others. A more subtle and almost passive form of bullying is when students scroll through social media and see pictures of parties or events that they weren’t invited to. This can affect students negatively because it’s not outright bullying but they feel excluded.
3 step plan for every student to shine online:
- Audit your kids using Google
- Dialog with your kids about where they want to go to college and what they want to do for their career
- Determine what content they can start posting on social media once they reach the age of 14