What parents must do to protect children from cyberbullying

Today I am very happy to welcome guest poster Kortney Peagram.  She owns a small company, Bulldog Solution, that runs anti-bullying, diversity, and leadership programs across Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. She has over 8 years of facilitation and training experience, and is sharing her advice on how parents can protect kids and tweens who have internet access at home from cyberbullying.

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Top "Must Do's" if you have children and you have access to the internet in your home:

  1. Google your child's name and see what is out there. Go through your child's Facebook pictures and make sure all of the pictures are PG. Make sure there is no personal information posted on his/her social media, such as a phone number, address, etc...
  2. Set rules and boundaries around using the internet. It is a privilege, not a right! Come up with some consequences if your child abuses his/her internet privileges.
  3. Learn about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumbrl, Pinterest, You Tube, Gmail, and different websites.
  4. Know how to report cyberbullying and ask your school about their policies and training programs around the topic.
  5. Check  privacy settings at least 4 times a year. Make sure that your child has them set so only his/her friends can see your child's profile. You want to avoid any posts being public. This will eliminate exposing your child to possible threats and leaking private information.
  6. If you find evidence of cyberbullying, print out the evidence and report it. Have your child unfriend the person immediately and hide any harassing news feed on his/her social media page.
  7. Talk to your child about sexting and the consequences of  sending provocative photos. These behaviors can start as early as 5th grade.
  8. Tell your child to NEVER share passwords with their BFF and significant others. Kids can be vicious and turn on each other so easily. Think about my last post on Relational Aggression! Remember kids feel powerful online and they think you can't catch them. They may use innocent peoples accounts to harass and threaten others.
  9. Set ground rules with cell phones. Have the ability to browse your child's texts and photos. It is not an invasion of privacy. If your child is sending texts, posts, and pictures, anyone can access it, so you have a right too. I also tell parents, "If you are paying for the bill, you can check out your kid's phone." Remember you are doing this to protect your child and keep him/her safe.
  10. Know the time your child last posted on social media sites. If he or she is posting late at night, on a school night, you might want to have a talk about appropriate internet usage and increase boundaries on time of being online.
  11. Be friends with your child on Facebook and Twitter. You will thank me someday. Browse his/her profile at least once a week.
  12. Give your child's cell phone a curfew. For example, after 10pm take the phone away for the evening, or use parental controls to determine when the phone is usable. Have your child get a restful sleep without access to technology.
  13. Browse through your internet history and visit the sites.

My advice is to get educated about what is out there and what your child has access too. Talk about sexting, peer pressure, cyberbullying, retaliation, and revenge. Take the time to get to know what your kid is doing on the internet. Believe me, I know what they do and how they get away with it. It is up to us to start setting ground rules, boundaries, and expectations around technology in your homes.

Parents don't want to give their child(ren) too much privacy or distance and then someday find a video of them unleashing their pain to the world. You can make a difference as a parent and it starts at home.

Here is a great resource for cyberbullying information:

http://www.cyberbullying.us/

Kortney Peagram owns a small company, Bulldog Solution, that runs anti-bullying, diversity, and leadership programs across Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. She has over 8 years of facilitation and training experience. She is in the final phase of completing her Doctorate in Psychology. Her dissertation is focused on determining the effectiveness of one of Bulldog's anti-bullying programs and through the process she got to really understand what drives bullying behavior. Kortney also discovered that bullying is a larger problem and oftentimes misconstrued by the media. You can find her at Bully Boot Camp on ChicagoNow.

You can find the previous Tween Us post here: Katy Perry’s song 'Peacock' is actually NOT about pretty birds, to my kid's surprise

If you liked this, you may also like: Tweens & Cell Phones series

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