Technology can be amazing, astounding and wonderful, but just as fantastic as it can be in the right hands, in the wrong hands it can be devastating, demoralizing, even destructive.
When our children are young, we teach them how to wield a fork safely at the dinner table and to not hit other kids during play-dates. We must also teach them how to harness the power of the internet for good. Learn to knit or tie knots; speak Spanish or play the guitar. Keeping up with friends and distant family on Facebook can be a lifesaver for the homesick. There are so many amazingly wonderful experiences that can be had on the internet.
Unfortunately, the dangerous sense of anonymity online can lead some to cruel and horrific activities resulting in unimaginable suffering for all involved. Children need guidance. Their brain is not as developed as an adult’s brain and we can’t expect them to think like an adult.
So, at what point have you taught, or will teach, your kids about cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is when a minor is threatened, harassed or in any negative connotation targeted by another minor. When an adult gets involved in the harassment it becomes cyberharassment or cyberstalking.
Talk to your kids about what cyberbullying is. Ask them if they have any incidences where they feel like they’ve been bullied or that they’ve seen/heard about someone being bullied. Talk them through what the options are on handling those situations, i.e. talk to you, or a teacher or another responsible adult.
If you think your child might have the tendency to bully someone, check the online history of the computer they use. If they have a cell phone, check it. Some people might believe that this breaks their trust or is an invasion of privacy but technology is a privilege, not a right. If they can’t behave properly with it, then you can restrict that privilege. Think about it, it would be better for you to monitor it and restrict it, if needed, than for them to lose it because they’re in juvenile detention.
“With great power, comes great responsibility.” - Voltaire
Have your kids encountered cyberbullies? What tips or resources would you share with other parents?