While many parents like to think that their children are generally good, well-behaved students when they're off at school, the national bullying problem suggests otherwise. Kids teasing classmates is hardly uncommon in the U.S. school system, but the rise of the internet and social media has taken this issue to a whole new level. These days, a fair amount of bullying and name-calling occurs on sites like Twitter and Facebook.
As a father, you'd probably take great steps to protect your little ones from bullying, whether it's in real life or online. However, it's equally important to ensure that your children don't become the perpetrators of internet abuse. This can often seem harmless and in good fun for young ones who don't understand the harmful consequences of their words and actions. Here are some tips for teaching your children about the dangers of cyber bullying.
Teach them responsible internet use
Children are starting to use social media sites at an increasingly early age. Because of this, it's important for you to provide a guiding hand for internet use in general. Keep an eye on their activities online and inform them of the potential risks they may encounter. Between spam mail, internet predators and adult content, giving kids a sense of the negative potential of the internet can help them be more courteous, careful and responsible online. You may also want to monitor their time spent on social media sites.
Debunk the anonymity myth
Cyber bullying is partially a result of the feeling of anonymity that internet users – young and old – have online. Once your kids have a sense of the dangers present on the internet, you should educate them about how their actions can impact others in real life. Let your kids know that others will pay attention to their words on Facebook or Twitter just as they would speaking in person. Any meanness or teasing will have the same effects as if they did it to another student's face. When children realize they are not anonymous in the digital world, they often rethink how they behave online.
Educate about the potential harm
While teasing in school can quickly spread from one bully to a larger group of kids joining in, this effect can be much more significant online – with hundreds of people seeing a mean or embarrassing post instantly. Unfortunately, the consequences of these mean words are often also amplified. With victims of bullying often succumbing to depression, substance abuse, self harm or even suicide, it's vital that kids know that what they see as harmless bullying can be anything but.