Catching and Curbing Cyberbullying

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

At least one-fourth of the nation’s students reported being bullied at school, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The frequency is lower for cyberbullying (9 percent), though children who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) say they have been cyberbullied at a higher rate (55 percent).

Cyberbullying has even caught the attention of First Lady Melania Trump, who announced it recently as a part of her formal platformBe Best.”

So, as parents, how do you know whether your children are either victims of cyberbullying or online harassment, or are bullying others? And once you catch it, what do you do about it?

June is Internet Safety Month, and today, our Windstream team is giving you a guide to catching and curbing cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying most commonly happens on social media networks and other communication avenues, such as text and instant messaging apps. So the first step would be to get a grasp on what your kids are doing while logged onto your Kinetic Internet.

You can start by checking browsing histories and reviewing your children’s social media activities. Be the parents that friend your children on social media accounts. And in case they’ve turned on privacy settings to limit their content to you, have another trusted family member or family friend also follow your children online.

Learn the latest slang, or any other shorthand children — especially teens — may use while messaging. If you want to take it a step further, try some safety apps that can help strengthen parental controls such as can range from monitoring history and app usage to keylogging.

Signs of cyberbullying include changes in device use, changes in behavior or demeanor and changes in social media accounts. Pay particular attention as to whether these changes happen when children are using digital devices.

Know that children may be reluctant to share whether they’ve seen or heard cyberbullying incidents, including some actions that can turn criminal, such as harassment or hazing. Ask questions of your children to learn when it started, what it entails and who is doing the bullying.

Keep track of all the instances the cyberbullying occurred. (Here’s how to take screenshots on a PC and on a Mac.)

If the bully is a classmate, report that behavior to the school; if it’s someone online, report it to the social media network or app. And if it ever crosses the line and breaks the law, report it to police. Each reporting mechanism should have clear next steps.

Read more here about the steps your children can do if they spot bullying or are the victim.

Overall, set rules before your children even sign up for social media accounts. Have guidelines also for online activity, and talk to them! Part of that includes teaching them what is or isn’t acceptable behavior online, along with ways they can protect themselves from cyberbullying.

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