Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Essential Tips for Parents To Help Kids Fight Internet Cyber Bullying Online


By Mary Kay Hoal, Founder, President & COO, Yoursphere
Guest Post for MommyBlogExpert.com
Mary Kay Hoal & Family
Photo by Yoursphere.com

It’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed when it comes to our children and their use of technology.  After all, they’re the digital natives and we’re the digital immigrants. They prove it each day when they show us something new about technology.

When it comes to cyber-bullying it’s easy to feel afraid for our children – particularly when the media is filled with stories of depression and suicide. 

But, fear not, there are 3 simple things you can do:
1. Understand the why
2. Understand the how
3. Understand the solution

The Why
Cyber-bullying is an unintended consequence of wonderful tools: the Internet, social media and technology. The Internet because it affords anonymity and the subsequent behavior; mainstream social networks since they offer a “free-for-all” culture where anything goes and members aren’t always held accountable for their actions; and technology because it provides our kids nearly unlimited access (cell phones, PDAs, computers) without consistent and enforced cyber-safety standards in place.

The How
Secondly, it’s just too easy for kids to get involved in cyber-bullying. They find false courage behind a keyboard. They also don’t understand the real-world consequences to their online actions and don’t see or feel the emotional havoc they wreak on their victims. And, perhaps most problematically, they take advantage of the fact that many parents haven’t a clue about what’s going on online with their childrens’ networks of so-called friends.

The Solution
However, as a parent you will be relieved to know that there are some simple things you can do to protect your child. First and foremost, become educated about the issue. Next, bully-proof your child. Finally, say no to the culture of disrespect and negativity that awaits your child online.

How to tell if your child is a victim of cyber-bullying
- Are they visibly upset after using the computer or cell phone?
- Are they acting withdrawn?
- Do they avoid going online?
- Do they seem nervous when they receive text messages, email or IMs?

Tips to Bully-Proof Your Child
  • Tell them not to respond, and come to you first.
  • Block the bully.
  • Report all incidents, whether minor or ongoing
  • Keep a written record of problems.
  • Help the child choose a safe online community
  • Hug him/her -- they need to feel loved.

Mary Kay Hoal
Photo by Yoursphere.com

About the Author
Mary Kay Hoal is a married mother of five children (both biological and adopted) from 6 to 19 years old.  She is founder of Yoursphere.com, a free, fun, and vibrant social networking site for kids and teens that is receiving wide acclaim from national cyber crime experts and child safety advocates for its verification methods and oversight.  The site has a zero tolerance for bullying and is uniquely rewards-based, content appropriate, age-relevant, and socially conscious.  Hoal also writes the related Internet and social networking safety blog for parents and child caregivers Yoursphere For Parents

FTC Disclosure:  I did not receive payment or any other compensation in association with this post.  See complete FTC Disclosure information that appears at the bottom of MommyBlogExpert's main page and at the bottom of every individual post on this blog, including this one.


Ken said...

Fantastic tips on how to bully-proof your child -- especially the last one.

Jason Koeppe said...

This is such a timely post and I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes as parents we abdicate too much of our responsibility to others and it’s important to remember that even with a web monitoring service and good kids, parents need to understand the basics of social media if they really want to help their kids. Cyberbullying and other online dangers are just as real as a physical danger, but in the world of social media, many parents aren’t knowledgeable enough to be able to understand, let alone help, should a negative situation arise. Parents owe it to themselves and their kids to be social media savvy. IntelliCorp InTouch offers a free online video series, Social Media for Parents In Plain English (http://www.intellicorpintouch.com/social-networking-for-parents.aspx). It’s worth the time and effort to gain a basic understanding of social media so you can “walk the talk” if and when it becomes necessary.

Jason Koeppe
IntelliCorp InTouch

Anonymous said...

Bullying is not a rite of passage, it is abuse that must be stopped. That is why the best we can do parents to protect our children is that talk to them and as much as possible focus on them. Express your concern and make it clear that you want to help and empathize with your children. Say bullying is wrong, that it is not their fault, and that you are glad they had the courage to tell you about it. Reassure them that the situation can be handled privately. I would like to share this link, about a service on how you can protect your children. You might find it interesting: http://safekidzone.com/