Did you know that 71 percent of younger generations have expressed a concern about cyberbullying?
That’s a huge number that shows just how dangerous the online world can be. When you add in the potential for cyber stalking and other related crimes, it’s easy for parents to be uneasy about their children spending hours on end online.
This brings us to a very important question: what’s the best way to teach your kids to be safe online?
While there is no definitive strategy, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your child is as safe as possible:
1. Talk About Cyberbullying
Some children don’t understand the signs of cyberbullying and the steps they can take to remove themselves from a potentially harmful situation.
It’s essential to speak with your children about cyberbullying, focusing on details such as: what this looks like, how to respond, and the best practice for solving the problem once and for all.
According to a 2016 report from the Cyberbullying Research Center, nearly 34 percent of students between the age of 12 and 17 have been a victim of cyberbullying at some point in their life.
When you share these statistics with your kids, it’s more likely that they will take this seriously.
2. Discuss the Signs of Cyber Stalking
Cyber stalking is a growing problem in today’s world.
It may be clear to an adult when cyber stalking is present, but children don’t often have the real world experience to point this out. Subsequently, it can result in a dangerous situation.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “during a 12-month period an estimated 14 in every 1,000 persons age 18 or older were victims of stalking.” The numbers are just as serious for those under the age of 18.
You should discuss the signs of cyber stalking with your kids, which can include but are not limited to:
- Making unwanted phone calls
- Making unwanted contact via social media or email
- Following or spying on the victim online
- Posting information about the victim online
To your child, cyber stalking may appear innocent enough. However, it’s not uncommon for online stalking to transition into “real world” stalking.
Let your child know what to do in the event of cyber stalking. This little bit of knowledge can go a long way in keeping him or her safe.
3. Teach Them How to Reply
Children don’t always know what to do in the event of cyberbullying or cyber stalking. This is where you come into play.
It’s important to teach your child how to deal with any situation, such as what they should say and do.
For example, there are ways for a child to reply to an angry or condescending email without jeopardizing their own reputation.
Tip: no two children are the same, so it’s important to be clear in regards to the best way to reply.
Some children will shy away from confrontation, while others have no problem “stepping up to the plate” and firing back.
4. Manage Screen Time
You may not want to go down this path, but it’s in the best interest of your child.
This doesn’t mean you have to prohibit your child from using the internet. It simply means you should manage screen time and set clear parameters.
With 92 percent of teens using the internet on a daily basis, there’s a good chance that your child will go online at some point.
Without being obtrusive to the point of causing an argument, you need to monitor activity and manage how much time they’re spending online. This alone can teach a child to be safe.
5. Share Examples of Dangerous Situations
Did you recently read a story about a child who put him or herself in a dangerous situation online? Have you faced trouble yourself in the past?
It’s important to share examples with your child as often as possible. This does two things:
- Gives them the advice they need to make better decisions in the future
- Helps them fully understand that there are dangers lurking every time they sign online
You don’t have to go overboard by sharing new examples every day, but it’s a good idea to get into the habit of doing this on a regular basis.
When you make a concerted effort to teach your kids to be safe online, it won’t be long before you realize that you’re making progress.
In the end, the only thing you can do is provide your child with guidance and advice. From there, it’s up to him or her to do the right thing.
How are you teaching your kids to be safe online? What steps are you taking to help them prevent trouble in the future?