Last time we shared information on bullying and cyberbullying. This time we are showing you how to keep your children safe online.
We will discuss this from two perspectives: Parents, and Educators.
Parents are the only people who pay the most attention to their children, obviously. Or if they don’t, they should.
Often, when bullying occurs, kids are afraid of expressing their emotions. They might keep the associated feelings hidden, maybe due to shame or fear that their online privileges may be taken away at home.
If your children are being cyberbullied, offer comfort and support as soon as possible. Talking about any bullying experiences you had in your childhood shows relatability and can build stronger trust.
Let your children know that it’s not their fault, and that bullying says more about the bully than the victim. Praise your children for doing the right thing by talking to you about it. Remind your children that they’re not alone — a lot of people get bullied at some point. Reassure them that you will figure out what to do about it together.
Communicate with someone at school (the principal, school nurse, or a counselor or teacher) about the situation. But before reporting the problem, let your children know that you plan to do so. Work out a plan that makes you both feel comfortable.
Encourage your children not to respond to cyberbullying; doing so just fuels the fire and makes the situation worse. Keep the threatening messages, pictures, and texts. These can be used as evidence with the bully’s parents, school, employer, or even the police. You may want to take, save, and print screenshots of these to have for the future.
Digital tools that KTW Recommends for online monitoring:
KTW encourages everyone to stay up-to-date on the latest apps, social media platforms, and digital slang used by children and teens.
Our research for tools usable in keeping your children safe online have led us to an interesting shortlist: Silenccio, Bark, and Bosco.
As mentioned on their website, Silenccio, an innovative Swiss start-up, offers an online service that identifies and filters out negative posts and hateful comments on social media, and reports them to you.
On request, Silenccio can intervene, send the offending poster a warning, and act immediately to have what they have written deleted – in the event of a lawsuit for defamation or violation of legal personality rights.
Silenccio also monitors e-mails and phishing scams and offers a browser extension for shopping sites.
We are impressed with the team’s goal, so Silenccio earns a spot in our growing KTW Database (Silenccio).
“Bark helps families manage and protect their children’s online lives.” It is capable of monitoring 30+ of the most popular apps and social media platforms, including text messaging and email, for signs of dangers online. Bark’s “screen time management and web filtering tools help you set healthy limits around how and when your kids use their devices.” Bark Annual Report
In 2019, Bark analyzed more than 873.8 million messages across texts, email, YouTube, and 30+ apps and social media platforms. They learned that 76.2% of tweens and 78.4% of teens experienced cyberbullying as a bully, victim, or witness.
Their achievements and ease of use granted it a place in our KTW Database (Bark).
“Bosco is an AI-powered parenting app that predicts and prevents threats to children.
Bosco was created to put parents back in the driver’s seat of both theirs and their children’s digital lives. Our unique approach to online child safety gives parents the information they need to help guide their children through threats they might face online, without drowning them in distracting data.”
Bosco shares the simplicity and completeness of the previous apps with similar functionalities. It is mainly used for observation, and allows you to make quick and educated decisions with ease. KTW Database (Bosco)
Learn about ways to keep your kids safe online on the Kidshealth.org list of recommendations, which you can read HERE.
And, from Pixel Privacy, we suggest their recently published guide about the internet safety for non-techy parents/carers. It covers the dangers of the internet, suggestions for rules and how to use parental controls. (UPDATE!!)
One of our favorite sources, the webinar “When Cyber bullying spills into schools”, presents a 5 points method (The 5 R’s) when addressing cyberbullying situations:
“Respond always, Research facts, Record documentation, Report findings, and Revisit the issue to make sure it is resolved.”
Even though being proactive towards bullying is the best attitude, there are instances when people need to know how to properly be reactive. Always be ready to Respond to any knowledge of bullying happening. Regardless if it’s the victim sharing the information, or a third party, Educators must be ready to handle any claim of bullying efficiently and with care.
Once bullying is acknowledged, it is important to get the story straight. Take the information at face value, and properly Research the facts. Making wrongful claims should not be tolerated. At the same time, all accusations of bullying must be given proper attention. Communicate with everyone willing to share.
Keep track of all the proof that you find concerning the bullying talk. Record all the information relevant: text messages, emails, videos, images, and other recordings. Teach students that it’s okay to report abuse, and remember that this younger generation identifies more closely with their online presence with no fault of their own.
These investigative efforts will pay off once you Report the findings, and come up with a proper way to correct the problem. Remember that fighting fire with fire is not a good strategy when dealing with children. Every situation must be treated with care and consideration for everyone involved. From communicating with parents to the children themselves, and even therapists if needed, the right information must go to the right people.
From these reports, proper policies must be established in order to remove any possibility of bullying to happen again.
Such corrective actions must then be verified for effectiveness. Revisit the issue, check in with both the bully and the victim, their families, and even your own institutions. Have the children’s situations improved? Must the measures be reviewed? Must the adopted technology in schools be monitored even more?
More information available on this Scholastic article.
Some preventative actions may be to foster a sense of family in students. Team building exercises are great ways to teach groups to behave cohesively. When they are taught empathy and teamwork towards a similar goal the tendency to be mean to each other is typically overturned by these positive emotions.
It is, however, difficult to gain children’s trust in school. Parents have the strongest influence. Therefore, it is always a good idea to involve parents in all aspects of children’s behavior at school through regular reporting and general open communication.
Speaking of communication, children in schools must know with certainty whom they can contact in case bullying occurs. Moreover, being clear, empathetic, and showing open communication will make children feel more comfortable; they will follow your example.