How to protect your children from Online Predators and Cyberbullying
08 May 2017
Do you ever ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”
In life, we find ourselves questioning if something is worth all the stress, planning, arguments, money, and more. Whether it is our jobs or volunteering, there are days we contemplate if the work is worth the reward. Especially, as parents raising children or teens. There are inevitably days we find ourselves pondering our sons and daughters disapproval of our actions or rules.
After all, we all want the best for our sons and daughters, but in today’s highly digital world one wrong swipe of the screen can derail all of our hard work and years of parenting in an instant. Today’s technology does harbor some real threats, making it vital that we sit down and closely examine the role our children’s devices and social media plays in our families. Depending on the child and situation, this extra effort will be worth it in the end as we help our kids safely navigate the digital realm free from dangers posed by two common foes: online predators and cyberbullies.
The Pitfalls of Online Predators and Cyberbullying
The moment we realize our kids can be attacked or victimized with technology or over social media is frightening. Online Predators and cyberbullies rely heavily on the anonymous and social aspects our children’s devices provide to contact our kids. As our sons and daughters spend large amounts of their days chatting with friends, this realization is even more sobering.
Suddenly, our children’s favourite past time opens the gateway for negative people to ebb their way into their lives. If a child encounters these online threats, the likelihood greatly increases they will suffer serious emotional or physical harm. In addition to the obvious harm online predators can inflict on a child, many studies have found strong correlations between cyberbullying victims and depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide.
Protection from Online Predators and Cyberbullying
Whether it’s social media or online gaming, studies have found that approximately 70 percent of our children regularly seek ways to hide their online activity from us. As our kids crave privacy and become more secretive, our job to keep kids safe becomes increasingly difficult. Thankfully, we have the ability to prevent the impact online predators and cyberbullies pose to our children.
By implementing the following 8 techniques, we can fortify our children against the clutches of online predators and cyberbullies:
Adjust a child’s privacy settings from public to private.
It sounds simple, but many children and teens don’t consider how easily their privacy can be compromised from a public profile.
Encourage them to never share passwords.
It might be tempting to allow best friends or crushes access to personal accounts, but far too often squabbling or former friends bully each other which can be exacerbated if they share passwords.
Only “friend” people they actually know.
Catfishing, or creating fake profiles to lure people in, is a popular way online predators and cyberbullies gain access to victims. A child can reduce their risk simply by limiting the online circles they interact with.
Connect with your child online.
Send a request or follow their activity on social media to know who they are interacting with and how they behave online.
Teach children to inform an adult if they encounter cruel or crude messages.
In the case of bullying, incidents often stop when adults intervene. As for online predators, you will be able to document any improper conduct and alert authorities if necessary.
If a situation develops, open all messages and contact together!
Be there for your child and offer your support. The last thing we want is for them to go through this alone.
Instill a strong sense of social media etiquette when a child is young and build on that foundation as they age.
Teach kids to only post items they feel comfortable with grandparents seeing and include sexting and oversharing in the conversation. Stress that it is alright to “say no” to sexting.
Develop a technology contract for your family.
Create a document that outlines the rules, expectations, and consequences for using technology. Seek input from the kids and get everyone involved. Hopefully, this will stop future arguments and conflict.
In the long run, we ultimately answer “is it worth it?” with a resounding “yes”! Our child’s safety and well being is worth all the extra work and research needed to make this a reality.
How do you protect your child from online predators and cyberbullying?
Hilary Smith has parlayed her love of technology and parenting into a freelance writing career. As a journalist, she specializes in covering the challenges of parenting in the digital age. She loves all things tech and hasn’t met a gadget that didn’t spark her interest. The Texas native currently resides in Chicago, IL and braves the winters with her two children, ages 4 and 7.