Cyberbullying: Keeping your children safe

05 Sep 2017 in Featured, Parenting

With 1 in 10 children now experiencing cyberbullying knowing how to protect your child online has never been more important. Our childcare experts have put together key advice for parents below. 

Types of Cyberbullying

  • Personal Intimidation – threatening text/instant messages or posting abusive and threatening comments on the victim’s profile or other websites.
  • Impersonation – setting up fake profiles and web pages that are attributed to the victim or hacking their account and impersonating them.
  • Exclusion – blocking an individual from a popular Facebook group or snapchat conversation
  • Personal Humiliation –posting images or videos intended to embarrass or humiliate someone
  • False Reporting –making false reports to get a user’s account deleted.

Key Advice for Parents

As a parent, you know your child better than anyone. You are best placed to identify and deal with any incidences of cyberbullying they might encounter. Children who have been bullied will have difficulty in overcoming this problem alone and will need your reassurance and encouragement in tackling it.

What should I look out for?

If your child is avoiding school, or seems upset, sad or angry (especially after using their phone, tablet or PC); if your child is withdrawing from usual activities, suddenly showing disinterest in their devices or rapidly switching screens when you enter the room, they may be a victim of cyberbullying.

Dealing with bullying behaviour

There are 4 questions that, when taken together, you can use to help confirm that the behaviour you are dealing with is bullying:

  • Target – Is your child specifically targeted on their own or is the behaviour targeted at a group of people?
  • Duration – Has this been happening over a period of time?
  • Frequency – Is this behaviour part of a recurring pattern?
  • Intention – Is this behaviour deliberately intended to harm or upset your child?

Report cyberbullying

  • get in touch with your child’s school or youth organisation if the bullying involves another pupil from that school or youth group.
  • contact the service provider through its Customer Care or Report Abuse facility.  
  • contact your local Gardaí if the cyberbullying is very serious and potentially criminal

Respond appropriately

If you are concerned that your child has received a bullying, offensive or harassing message, it is very important that you encourage them to talk to you. Responding to a negative experience by stopping their access to mobile phones or the internet might result in you being left out the loop the next time this happens.

What if I think my child may be involved in cyberbullying others?

Children need to understand how much all forms of bullying, including cyberbullying, hurts and how important it is not to stand by when someone is being bullied. It is important, therefore, that children learn “netiquette”.

You should explain the following guidelines to them and stress how important it is that they be followed:

  • Avoid hurting someone’s feelings by email or other forms of electronic communication;
  • Respect other people’s online rights;
  • Avoid insulting someone;
  • If someone insults you, be calm;
  • Avoid “crashing” social media groups or forums;
  • Respect the privacy of other people online;
  • Be responsible online.

Use the parenting skills that you apply to every other aspect of your child’s life to help them stay safe in their online lives. The single biggest thing you can do to keep your child safe online is to engage with what they do. Let your child know that you are there to listen and that you are available to help them should they get involved in cyberbullying in any way.

If you'd like to learn more about protecting your child online please visit barnardos.ie/cyberbullying.

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