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Cyber Bullying

Cyber bullying involves the use of digital communications (e.g. internet or mobile phones) to deliberately attempt to cause physical, emotional and psychological harm to others.

Kids go online and use their mobile phones for various reasons – to surf for information as homework, play online games, watch videos, email, send messages and chat with friends. Because so much communication is done online, it’s important for kids to be able to identify when someone says something to make them feel bad or to appreciate that their own words can cause unintentional harm to others.

Bully-Proof Your Kid

You are probably not going to be there 24/7 when your children are using the internet. They may become victims of cyber bullying without you even knowing about it.

Here’s how to prepare them to become bully-proof kids:

Teach your children to stop what they are doing if they encounter something that makes them feel uncomfortable, fearful or hurt. Cyber bullies are often looking for victims who will react to their hurtful antics because they want to know that they have successfully taunted their victims. Sometimes, responding can trigger more instances of cyber bullying and escalate the severity of the consequences. However, if the cyber bullies see that they are not getting the reaction they want, they will soon give up and leave your children alone.

Having your kids cut off all lines of communication with the cyber bullies is one of the best ways to deal with them. The less contact the bullies have with your children, the fewer opportunities they have to hurt your children. The cyber bullies will also never know when their victims are online. Most communication tools and social media platforms offer users a feature that can be used to block specific people from their contact lists, so do let your kids know about that. You should also remind them never to leave the cyber bullies unblocked out of curiosity to see what else they may be writing. This only invites the cyber bullies to continue.

Simply deleting and trashing all the offensive and hateful e-mail, instant messages or text messages is not the way to go as they can come in handy in the future. Teach your children to save all evidences of cyber bullying, preferably in both hard and soft copies, because it can be used to bring the cyber bullies to justice should there be a need to report them to the higher authorities.

Your children should not have to suffer alone. Therefore, it is important that you let them know that rather than keeping everything to themselves, they can tell a trusted adult (parents or teachers) any time if they are caught in a cyber bullying situation. Other people whom they can speak with include their teachers, another trusted adult or even their best friends. It may be extremely painful for them to talk about it, but it can help to relieve some of the tension that has been built up within them. It will also allow you to give them the help and support that they need.

If the previous tips cannot successfully stop cyber bullying, they need to report the cyber bullies to the appropriate authorities, including parents and teachers. If cyber bullying goes as far as having their personal safety being threatened or their reputation being defamed, then it may be wise to report the case to the police as well.

Cyber bullying is a serious issue that can affect your children emotionally, psychologically and sometimes even physically. Therefore, it needs to be stopped not just by parents like you but also your children who can use the above-mentioned skills you have taught them to protect themselves.

Article contributed by TOUCH Cyber Wellness