October is National [Cyber]Bullying Prevention Month. In an age where cruelty and trolling is a major concern among parents, have you considered being your child's cyber-mentor?
It may sound quirky since many parents believe their kids will always be an app ahead of them or are more cyber-savvy than they are -- but never doubt, you are your child's greatest influence. They will always need your parenting wisdom and guidance that doesn't come with technology.
Youth today spend more time on their digital devices than doing anything else except sleeping. It’s like home to them. According to a recent Common Sense survey, teens spend an average of 9 hours per day using media -- which means they are digitally connected for most of their waking hours.
With this much time spent in cyber-life, it's imperative for youth to learn how to incorporate their (positive) offline skills into their online lives. So where do we begin?
Being an upstander
A good place to start is to model upstander behavior and talk offline to your child about how they can create a kinder and more compassionate online community where they support each other rather than tear each other down.
1. Never forward mean means, comments on hateful threads or fake news – Remember, even liking a comment is endorsing it.
2. Report and flag abuse to social platform. Remind them to tell an adult if they believe they or someone is in danger.
3. Reach out to people being harassed – let them know you’re in their corner.
4. Make it a habit to give out compliments (be kind) – especially if you notice someone is having a bad day. Maybe lost their pet or struggling with trolls.
5. Community outreach. Get involved in services in your area – from feeding the homeless, visiting nursing homes, Humane Society or whatever you can do to help others. Kindness offline helps you become more self-aware of compassion online.
Be proactive, forward this to a parent you know today. Everyone needs to be part of an upstander revolution. It's one strong way to combat online incivility.
How will you be your child's cyber-mentor?
Learn more about building digital resilience in my earlier post.