Remember when parents used to tell their children there is nothing under the bed, no monster can hurt them, remember being told by your parents, what’s not real can’t hurt you in real life.
Well this concept has evolved as children’s “imaginary” life is now getting a platform to evolve with the help of internet- it’s called the virtual life. Kids and adults nowadays live a dual life, real life can be harsh, full of cruel and disheartening disappointments, whereas a virtual life is full of blooming possibilities.
You want blonde hair, so you can have! You want to be a doctor, be a model, be anyone you want to be, it’s all just a click away.
But the question is if everything is just a click away, shouldn’t we “think” before we “click”?
Cyber bullying has emerged as a very important issue nowadays, as everything is online, it has become difficult for parents to monitor and understand what their children are seeing and adapting. Children as young as 8 are getting victimized by cyber bullies.
You’d think, that it all being just a dream would let you do lots of cool and risky things, since it’s not real anyway, and therefore you can’t get hurt.
Cyber-crime rose alarmingly by 52% between 2011 and 2012. Also, 82% of the youth connect to social media atleast once a day, the exposure is quite high.
So if you are a parent of a teenager, there may be some reason for you to worry about what your child is facing on the internet.
There are a few ways you can prevent your children from being bullied online:
1. Understand Internet & Embrace technology
The first step for any concerned parent would be to start understanding the internet, of course it has its ills but it’s also liberating at the same time. Web has abused us and some crimes have been committed all because of the ignorance. So be well informed, at this age of technology “ignorance is definitely not a bliss”.
Talking is the best way of knowing what your kids are thinking and also letting them know what you think. Spying on them won’t work; start understanding the importance of confronting. Be open, but don’t judge, let them speak their mind.
3. Monitor their activities
Monitoring definitely doesn’t mean you have to spy on your kid, let yourself be involved in their lives as a friend without losing the importance as a parent. Let yourself be acquainted with the social media platforms that your kids are using. Try putting your computer in a central place at your home.
4. Teach them what’s right and what’s not
Many children don’t even realize what can a simple hateful remark do to someone of an impressionable age, the building years of someone’s life define what they do and how they react in their future. Many people don’t even know when they are committing a crime. Putting filters is a good way to monitor, but they will always find ways around them. Empowering them goes a long way, try that.
5. Try not to be taken for a ride
Make them understand that everything they see might not be real, they could be talking to a false identity, and their privacy could be abused without their slightest knowledge. Talk about the horrible consequences they could face if they aren’t careful what they are putting up on the web.
6. Developing a thick skin is not a bad idea after all
The point is to take themselves seriously, not someone who is on the other end of the internet. Even celebrities aren’t spared, they don’t need to take everything they see seriously, to the extent that will affect their real lives. Sometimes the bullies don’t even know they are bullying! So why get bullied anyways! Stand up and don’t stand by when they do encounter such cases.
7. If your child is the bully
Without a doubt, parents have a duty to do their part to ensure that their kids do not bully others. Remember, that even bullies are someone’s kid, they aren’t aliens!. Keep a close watch and remind your kids about the importance of treating others the way they would want themselves to be treated. Problematic behaviours need to be addressed with reasonable and appropriate discipline. In general, parents need to instill in their children an ethic that includes respecting others and always acting and interacting with integrity, whether online or off.
You cannot change what you do not acknowledge. Remember only acceptance leads to healing and vice versa! It’s a process, so start working on it.
In today’s world our virtual and real lives are overlapping, so where to draw the line?
We might be secretively lonely in our real lives but are social on the internet, that is a very potent mix. Children are very open with their personal lives on the internet which might turn out to be dangerous.
If you have encountered a cyber crime, or are anxious about encountering such crimes please get help before it’s too late, as bullying is not confined to the school playgrounds anymore, children as young as 10 are being targeted as well. Start talking about these topics as early as you can, because the younger the children are, the more vulnerable they are and the easier they are to fleece.
Talk it out and be safe.