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Adolescents and internet safety - how to keep your kids safe from cyberbullying

By Tim Mitchell on 26 May, 2017

While the internet has completely changed the way people communicate and keep in touch, it has also opened the doors for cyberbullying. Children as young as nowadays take part in social networking and instant messaging, but, of course, are unaware of the negative impact this online technology could have on their growth.

As per the 2013 Annual Bullying Survey conducted by Liam Hackett of ‘Ditch the Label’ on more than 2,000 British teens states that “37% of teens experience bullying quite frequently with 20% underwent extreme cases of bullying.” These facts suggest that children and youngsters need rightful guidance from parents to avoid becoming victim of such threats.

Let’s understand this through a story.

Miley was a bright student at the school. Recently, she created her social media profile, added a few pictures and was quite excited to have as many as 47 friends on her list, most of which were unknown to her. She would poke her classmates and chat with the new friends to know them better.

But one afternoon, she came across an unusual message on her social media profile from a stranger, who has given sexual remarks on her pictures. Embarrassed and scared, Miley did not share her trauma with anyone. But the worst was yet to come. Someone shared her photoshopped pictures with her schoolmates over social media and she was teased every now and then. Not only distressed, Miley was now reluctant to go to school. Her parents were unaware until one day she tried to hurt herself badly because her classmates were calling her with funny names.

How to Beat Online Bullying?

The story of Miley clearly and strongly demonstrates the need of parental indulgence to help children who are getting bullied. According to the 2014 Cyberbullying annual statistics report by ‘Ditch the Label’, “Cyberbullying is found to have catastrophic effects on the self-esteem and social lives of up to 70% of young people.”

Depression, social anxiety, suicide are some of the major consequences of cyberbullying. Adolescents and teens who find it hard to share their pain with someone at times take steps that are harmful to their future. It is therefore quite important for parents to keep an eye upon the ongoings of their child’s life. Whether you’re a working parent having lesser time for your child or looking out for smart ways to help him, here are some easy ways to ensure the safety of your child:

Work Out on a Mutual Agreement for Internet Usage

Rather than enforcing a “No Internet” policy at your home, parents should give a second thought to their decision. With easy access to smartphones and computers, stopping your child from browsing the internet is simply next to impossible. It is better to formulate and set rules for internet usage through mutual agreement by considering the below-mentioned points:

· Time Limit - Depending on the day of the week, you can define a time limit for internet browsing. For instance, set 45 minutes as ‘browsing time’ for weekdays. A little extension of time could be given on weekends.

· Educate - Your child should know the right and wrongs of the internet. Discuss with him about which content on the web should be browsed and which should be avoided.

· Revise - Make sure you and your child are on the same page as far as the internet usage rules are concerned. So revise them periodically.

Make your kids aware of the risks associated with online information sharing

Make your child understand that the consequences of sharing personal information on the internet and that he should be very careful while posting status updates, location check-ins, sharing photographs and other such stuff. Someone with a bad intention can misuse the information and cause harm to their identity. Tell him:

· Avoid replying to messages/emails from unknown individuals

· Avoid making friends with strangers

· Never share personal details like date of birth, residential address, school/college name, etc. with an unknown person

Utilise parental control tools to track your child’s online activities

Technology could provide a great value in securing your child’s online and offline security. Install a Parental Control Tool on your child’s computer to see the websites and content he browses without letting him know. This means that you can secretly block website URLs, set a timer for internet browsing and block inappropriate content such as nudity, violence, etc. quite easily. It's a good way to ensure that your child does not get indulged into wrongful content on the web whether you are at home or not.

Work with your child now

Frequently, cases of cyberbullying can begin with mild abuse, but can end up as badly as mental and even physical violence. Besides practising all the above-mentioned tips, you need to practice good communication with your kid on daily basis, even if it is for a short duration. With that done, you can stay assured that your child experiences a positive browsing experience on the internet.

Kanika Sharma works as a Content Developer at REVE Antivirus. For the past 4 years, she has been writing for various technology blogs. Being an engineering graduate, her background allows her to connect with cutting-edge technologies and relate them to real world scenarios.