Living in the information age can be an amazing thing. We have access to our families, and friends, far and near day and night! We can get information any time and within seconds of things happening. But these changes mean that our kids are growing up in a very different world than we did. They have access to way more information than we did, and are exposed to influences that are not just directly in their community or classroom anymore. And honestly it is a little daunting as a parent to try to keep up with changing technologies and social media platforms.
As parents it’s harder for us to filter the information our children have access to, especially on social media sites. People can share messages and information like never before. There is good and bad to the access they have and messages they may receive. Keeping our kids safe and protecting them from bullies is even harder than when we were kids. Since we now have cyber bullies that can access our children in ways that are not always easy to see. There was a national study done by TELUS WISE, PREVNet and MediaSmarts on cyberbullying. And I think it is worth taking the time as a parent to have a look, and see what we can do differently to help prevent cyberbullying. Some of the points I found most interesting:
- Youth are motivated to intervene when they witness cyberbullying, but would be more likely to do so with better support from adults. This means we have to get in there and help our youth know how to intervene when they see cyber bullying going on.
- 90 per cent of youth said they would intervene if their family member were the target of cyberbullying while 37 per cent would intervene for someone they do not know personally
- 33 per cent of youth said they do not intervene in cyberbullying situations because they do not believe adults give advice that helps
So how do we help? How can we work to prevent cyberbullying with our kids when it seems like there is a new social media platform popping up every day? Here are a few tips to get you started, because our kids need us to be educated and involved:
- Start young. Teach kids as early as you can about proper use of social media, and what is ok and not ok ways to communicate on social media, and text messages.
- Help kids to understand what a real joke is, and what is “just a joke” isn’t really a joke. It can really effect others and we need to think about others feelings. Empathy can be taught at a young age, and will have a lasting effect on our kids.
- Teach kids that they can rely on you and their school staff to take their concerns seriously. They need to know that when they tell us about cyber bullying we are going to take it seriously. That starts with any trouble at school that they may have. Show them you will get to the bottom of it, and find out the truth and have their back.
- Don’t over react. Taking away electronics is not the answer to cyberbullying. Kids will only hide the issue from adults if they feel like things are going to be taken away. Be a safe place for them to talk and help come up with real solutions to the problem, not just “put a band-aid” on it
MediaSmarts has a great article called Strategies Fighting Cyberbullying that is a great resource and offers more strategies. The challenges facing our children, and parent are always changing, but there are resources out there to help us navigate this new world together. Take the first stop and start the discussion with your children today, and lets help make cyberbullying a thing of the past.
Disclosure: I am a Telus customer. All opinions are strictly my own.