Cyberbullying is the most common online threat that has negatively influenced the lives of hundreds of children. Social media is the prime facilitator of online bullying enabling harassers to access and victimize the target keeping their identities hidden. The victims of online harassment suffer from several mental and psychological issues such as depression, fear, anxiety, isolation, and low self-esteem. The victims of consistent cyber bullying may also develop suicidal thoughts. This article provides guidance to parents about cyberbullying and ways to protect kids from this threat.
What is Cyberbullying?
Have you ever experienced harassment in your school days? Online harassment is no different than schoolyard bullying. Rather than harassing the target face-to-face, the persecutor uses electronic means to frequently tease, threaten, humiliate and offend the victim. Mobile phones and computers are used to send threatening messages, make annoying calls and create offending social media posts. Negative comments on social media posts to make fun of the target are common examples of online bullying.
Cyber-harassment puts severe impacts on the mental and psychological health of the victim. Some of the most common effects of bullying are low self-confidence, depression, and anxiety. Severe and unstopped bullying can also develop suicidal thoughts. Many cases have been reported where the victim of cyberbullying had committed suicide. Mostly, children do not inform their parents about harassment because they fear losing access to their smartphones, computer, and the internet. In this situation, they do not get any support from their parents or elders to combat the bully.
How to Prevent Cyberbullying?
You can protect your children from cyberbullying with a few simple practices. Read on to know how online harassment can be prevented.
Set Private Profiles
The first and foremost thing to protect kids from online bullying is to ensure that your kids set up private social media profiles rather than public. Whatever you post on public profiles can be seen and commented by anyone. It invites comments from unidentified social media users and strangers. On the other hand, the posts made on private profiles can only be seen by known persons. It minimizes the chances of receiving bullying comments and tags.
Do Not Accept Requests from Strangers
Make sure not to add strangers to your social media friend list. Usually, teens tend to have a long friend-list as compared to the list of their fellows. It increases their chances of having predators, scammers, and bullies in their social media friend circle. Moreover, it enhances their chances of becoming a victim of online harassment.
Do not Use Age-Inappropriate Social Media Apps
Do not allow kids to use social media, communication and dating apps that are not appropriate for their age. The apps like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook are promoting body-shaming. The overweight social media users are likely to receive humiliating comments on their photos that promote depression and low self-confidence in the victim.
Monitor Digital Devices
The best way to prevent kids from cyberbullying is the monitoring of digital devices. Make use of parental control and monitoring app to supervise online and socializing activities of your teens. It keeps you informed of your kid’s activities on the most commonly used communication and social networking apps. Using the app, parents can secretly supervise social media chats, posts and comments of their kids without letting them know. It helps to figure out if their kid receives bullying stuff through messages, posts or comments.
Supervise Internet Use
The internet use of children should be supervised to prevent them from visiting objectionable and age-inappropriate websites. They are likely to become a victim of online harassment on websites and online platforms that are not kid-friendly. You can manage their internet use by blocking access to unwanted websites.
Make some rules to prevent kids from cyberbullying. Here are some of the most effective digital rules that can protect your children from becoming a victim of harassers.
- Do not respond to bullying messages or comments as it can only add fuel to the fire.
- Do not delete threatening messages without showing to parents.
- Do not make fun of someone on social media.
Hope this article would help to learn about cyberbullying and ways to prevent it. Educate your kids about online threats and train them to combat online bullying and all other threats prevailing in the digital world.