Parenting Tip of the Week – Prevent Cyberbullying and Promote Digital Citizenship

Thanks to modern technology – from our phones to computers to even Smart TV – humans are more connected than we have ever been before. The internet is a wonderful tool that exposes us to new information, experiences, and different cultures and beliefs. But as with all tools, it’s important to learn to use them properly in order stay safe. Given the rise in cyberbullying, this is especially true for children! And while the internet can be big and scary, with a few basic rules and guidelines your little one can be surfing safely in no time.

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Cyberbullying – The Facts and Stats

While overall bullying is on the decline, rates of cyberbullying have risen in each of the past five years. According to the PEW Research Center, 90% of all adolescents between 12 and 17 have witnessed cyberbullying online.

Cyberbullying can take place in several different ways. The most common are:

  • Sending negative messages over text, email, or a social media
  • Spreading rumors over the Internet
  • Displaying hurtful messages online about another individual
  • Stealing account information to post damaging material as another person
  • Taking or circulating unwanted pictures of an individual

While cyberbullying is becoming more common, with a few rules and guidelines you can help prevent your child from becoming a victim.

Digital Citizenship – What is it and why does it matter?

Digital Citizenship refers to the norms relating to appropriate and responsible technology use. Conveniently, being a good digital citizen will also mean that you’re being safe with your information, so this is a good thing to teach your children when they first begin to use the internet.

Just like the dinner table or the church pew, there are social norms that govern the way people behave online. Positively interacting with others online and not doing or saying anything online that you wouldn’t do in person are two of the basics of digital etiquette.

Teach your children to be a good digital citizen by showing them your own social media accounts and model the behavior you want from your child. When you see negative comments or interactions, use these examples as a chance to discuss internet safety and etiquette with your child and reinforce the positive behavior you want to see.

If your child is being cyberbullied, make sure they know not to respond to the bully but to bring the problem up to you instead. Encourage your child to talk to you about everything they see online. Also, make it clear that you want to help and won’t take away privileges when your child tells you about something that is bothering them.

Other Tips to Keep Kids Safe

There are certain ground rules that you should set for your child to help encourage safe behavior online. Make sure your child knows never to give out personal information, even to friends. You should also set limitations on what accounts your child can have and, depending on age, make sure they are sharing passwords with you.

For more information on cyberbullying, check out StopBullying.gov and the PACER Center.

Do you have other ideas about how to promote respect and kindness in your children? Let us know by tweeting us @PCAAmerica or by leaving a comment on our Facebook page!