The number of cyberbullying incidents has increased significantly within the past few years. Due to the extensive period of time spent on the internet, children’s’ virtual world has become their reality. As a result, they become entrenched in communications with cyber predators. The only way to put a stop to cyberbullying is to educate children and parents on the subject.
I have seen many children (younger than 16) set up facebook accounts. Unfortunately, due to the fact they lie about their age in order to set up this account, there are no current statistics on how many children are on facebook. Luckily, I have had the opportunity to become friends with them and educate them on cyberbullying. They tell me exactly the type of interaction they have with “online strangers”. Some children, primarily females, establish an emotional relationship with them to the point they are susceptible to fall into depression if anything is said to them that is hurtful or derogatory.
One child claims she had “fallen in love” with a stranger she has been chatting with online. Once she brought this to my attention, I immediately called her and said she needs to sever all communication with this person. I then informed her of certain events where it was not a successful encounter. When delivering a message to your children, it has to be direct, to the point and effective.
Here are some tips to protect your children from cyberbullying:
- Educate your children about cyberbullying. Get them involved in the cause to put a stop to cyberbullying. Once they realize they can help and protect other children, they will become more passionate about it.
- Restrict internet access to a couple of hours a week. Do not let the computer be a babysitter for your children.
- Become tech savy! There are times where the child is more tech savy than the adult and can easily hide sites they have visited. One step is to set up a guest account on your computer which will give them restricted access in deleting certain sites they have visited.
- Check their phones! Tell them they are not allowed to take their phones to bed. Check their text messages and the numbers they call.
- Security software. There is software which will actually record keystrokes on a computer. If your child is in a chat room, all records of this will be recorded.
- Set up a password on the computer. If your child has a computer in his/her room, set up a password so that any time the child wants to use the computer, he/she has to go through you first.
Jeanine Swatton is a cyberbullying prevention expert and founder of iSwatton.com (to be launched in December 2010), a software startup focusing on web applications and mobile applications. Jeanine is also an advocate for stopping domestic violence as well as child abuse.Jeanine is from Boston and currently lives in Dublin, California. She has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Masters Degree in Computer Science from Boston University. She is currently pursuing another Master’s Degree in Cyber Security at the University of Maryland. Jeanine is a certified NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Practitioner, Intuitive Life Coach, as well as a certified PCR (Psycho-Cellular Repatterning) Spiritual/Energy Healer.
In her free time, Jeanine counsels men and women on establishing and maintaining healthy relationships. She also blogs for thenewageblog.com