When it comes to bullying, the act isn’t restricted to face-to-face interactions, and with the greater reach, the impact of bullying can be deeper. Parents may have difficulty realizing this, as for most of us, the bullying stopped when we reached the safety of our home or friends. But with the help of technology, bullies can reach our children from thousands of miles away.
Not only that, but cyberbullying has a far more public and permanent effect. While someone calling you names is bad enough, it’s another thing to have someone harass you over a platform like Twitter where other bullies and cruel bystanders can view and participate. This bullying can be brought back up years later, as once something is online, it is pretty much impossible to get rid of
To help you address this threat with your children, I have some tips on where to start as well as some insights on how my children and I dealt with digital harassment.
Start By Defining Harassment
It may sound funny, but you should start by defining harassment for your children, both online and off. In many cases, our kids and even other adults have been taught to dismiss bullying and harassment as far less serious than it is in reality.
I realized my own children felt this way as I was waiting to pick my daughter up from a late practice. As she headed toward my car, some men catcalled her from a passing car, and I had to step on my urge to hit the gas and chase after them. But what was almost worse was that my daughter was so surprised that I was upset. She said that kind of talk was “normal” and she never even thought of telling me or her mother about it.
So, as you sit down to talk with your children on how to deal with harassment and bullying, you should start from the basics. That way, your children can recognize the early signs of harassment that can easily spiral into worse.
Explore Strategies To Deal With Digital Harassment
The best strategy to deal with digital harassment is laid long before it is needed. To do this, you can role-play different potential scenarios and help your children determine how they should respond.
Consider this scenario—say your son is playing an online multiplayer game with a few friends and some stranger. This practice is pretty common in popular multiplayer games, and unfortunately, using derogatory language and harassing teammates is another common feature.
You can discuss with your son whether he would ask the other person to stop, talk to teammates about removing the badmouthing player from the team, and also discuss the report feature that informs community managers about the poor behavior. With these strategies in place, your child will feel less helpless and unsure of what to do.
Show Your Kids How To Block Online Harassers
With all different forms of social media and digital connection, there is a way to block people. Your kids may not know how to block, and if you are on a family phone plan, they may need your help to block people on their phones.
By empowering your children with the knowledge that they can and should block online bullies, you can de-fang the power of these harassers.
Also, while I am not overly in favor of my children living in a curated world where nothing contradicts them, I see no need to put them in danger for the sake of “toughening them up.” And to allow digital bullies continued unfettered access to my children is a danger I am not willing to run.
Let Your Children Know You Are There To Help
Last, but certainly not least, it is important for your children to know that you are there for them and that they can come to you with their struggles. Young children and teens who feel isolated, misunderstood, and trapped in their circumstances can take drastic steps to alleviate those feelings, and no parent wants their children to reach that point.
So, be sure to provide opportunities for your children to talk to you, whether regular one-on-one time to making sure your children know what times you are available for them to talk to you.
As you are there for your children, you can have a significant impact on their behavior and help them navigate these new and dangerous waters.
What’s your take? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.
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