With the illumination of bullying over the past year, along with the popularity of social networking sites constantly increasing, internet bullying, or cyberbullying, among school-aged children is a major concern.
Children and teens spend much of their time online, which makes bullying even easier. Cyberbullying allows the bully to be bolder, due to the possible anonymity, and allows the bully to reach the victim at any time of the day or night, leaving the victim with nowhere to hide. Children’s National Health System's general pediatrician, Ivor Horn, MD, MPH, said that another reason cyberbullying can be worse than physical bullying is the fact that it spreads much more quickly. Cyberbullying has been used for many purposes, and often parents have no idea their child is being bullied because the child is hesitant to tell them.Keeping bullies at bay:
- Block the bully from your child’s account, and do not respond to any messages from the bully
- Refrain from sharing contact information online, such as email address and phone numbers
- Take pictures of threatening messages for evidence
- Remind your child to report any bullying or threatening messages to an authority figure
- Visit sites such as stopcyberbullying.org and wiredsafety.org to learn about how to deal with bullying and other internet safety tips
Besides internet bullying, another concern is internet crime, as offenders continue to become smarter and sneakier and are able to lure children in. Parents should be cognizant of the ease of accessibility to their children for internet predators, and be sure their children are aware of the potential online dangers.
Find other tactics parents should employ to protect their children, along with these:
- Use parental controls to block certain websites, and monitoring chat room use
- Maintain access to your child’s account, and monitoring it regularly
- Tell your child to NEVER arrange a meeting with anyone they met online
Dr. Horn also wants to remind parents that if they allow their children to be involved on the internet and on social networks, they should also have an online presence. She states that not only does this allow parents to monitor their child’s activities, it also provides a new means to bond with their children.
“It’s the same as riding a bike. You have to walk along beside them as they learn the internet and social media, just like you would if you were teaching them how to ride a bike,” said Dr. Horn.