- Adult-intended social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Formspring and Tumblr. Social networks like these can boast a culture of “anything and everything goes”, and members aren’t held accountable for their actions because they’re anonymous. It’s important to understand that your experiences on these sites are entirely different then your child’s and to monitor your child's online activity, patterns and hours spent.
- YouTube. This is a great site for enjoying user-generated video content, and it is here where kids seek attention by posting videos to broadcast themselves. Typically, the more outrageous the video, the more views it will get. Sadly, that was the exact case of the horrific Karen Klein bus-bullying video taken by the middle school boys. The boys took the video because they wanted to post it on YouTube, and they wanted to post it on YouTube because they knew it would get plenty of views.
- Instagram. Whereas Facebook has a minimum age requirement of 13, Instagram is a public-facing social network open to all ages. Underage users flock to post photos with quick commentary on Instagram, making it a home for cyberbullying as well. Monitor your child's account settings and place them as "private," reserving approval for all connection requests.
Second, recognize that 50% of real-world bullies are also cyberbullies. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, if your child has bullied others in person, then this is an indication that their behavior might be repeated online.
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5 Things You Can Do to Help Your Child:
- Talk with your child and tell them that being cruel or mean to others is wrong, both online and offline, and that such behaviors are not acceptable and won’t be tolerated.
Have your child sign a technology contract so that rules and consequences are clearly defined.
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- Start monitoring your child’s online and cell-phone activities. Responsible parenting requires that you know exactly what your child is doing online. It doesn’t mean snooping or spying; it means being alert and proactive to concerning behaviors.
Steer your child in the direction of youth-intended social networks like Yoursphere, where the community is one of respect and positive interaction, and members aren’t recognized or rewarded for outrageous behavior. Instead, these social networks teach their members the importance of digital citizenship.
- Give your child a hug. A bully typically has low self-esteem and is ultimately seeking attention. Whether your child is a bully or not, a hug and an “I love you” is just the type of attention every child needs.
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