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There are a number of ways parents can promote online safety and prevent children from being victims or becoming transgressors of cyberbullying:
- The earlier the better: Talk to your children early about how to be a good digital citizen – treating others well and using information and communication technology for positive communication, safe and enjoyable learning, work, and play.
- Start talking to children earlier about the dangers of cyberbullying and the importance of behaving in ways that promote positive relationships. As soon as children have access to the Internet, it’s the right time to speak with them about the dangers of cyberbullying and how to report threatening behaviour.
- Save messages and share with parents and/or teachers. Show children how to save all threatening or hurtful messages they receive via the Internet. This evidence can be used to report incidences of cyberbullying or when speaking with the parents of the person doing the bullying. They may not know about their child’s bullying behaviour and having a record of communication is important.
- Block harassing or threatening messages online. There are privacy tools available on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and even on your phone and email to block the person doing the bullying, whether the messages come in via text, email or on social networking sites. Learn the ways to block the person bullying and make children aware of these options and most importantly, encourage them to tell an adult they trust about the bullying.
- Educate children on the dos and don’ts of acceptable online behaviour. There are a number of rules for safe and acceptable online behaviour. Some of these include:
- Never share personal information or photos in a chat room
- Never share cellphone numbers or email addresses unless you know and trust the person
- Never post, email or forward naked photos of yourself or anyone else to anyone
- Inform the school. Make the school aware of a bullying situation so teachers can be on guard and report any abnormal behaviour.
- Teach children to be a part of the solution, not the problem. Parents need to inform their children that even if they didn’t create the original hurtful email or message, by passing it on they are now participating in online bullying. On the other hand, by deleting the message and refusing to pass it on, they become part of the solution. Encourage them to also inform you of any worrying incidents they may be witness to online.