The Internet can be a very positive experience for young people They can use it to research homework communicate with other young people and play interactive games.
But online access also comes with risks, like inappropriate content cyberbullying and online predators.
Cyber bullying involves unwanted messages, images, audio or video sent by electronic means to threaten, abuse or harm someone. It’s like physical or verbal bullying, but uses technology instead.
Examples of cyberbullying
- Abusive messages or slagging on Facebook, Twitter etc.
- Offensive comments on videos or posts.
- Spreading rumours online.
- Hacking into your online accounts.
- Posting offensive images or posting doctored images of victims.
If you discover that your son or daughter is being cyberbullied, offer comfort and support. Talking about any bullying experiences you had in your childhood might help them feel less alone.
Let them know that it’s not his or her fault, and that bullying says more about the bully than the victim. Remind them that he or she isn’t alone — a lot of people get bullied at some point. Give reassurance that you will figure out what to do about it together.
Encourage your son or daughter not to respond to cyberbullying, because doing so just fuels the fire and makes the situation worse. But do keep the threatening messages, pictures, and texts, as these can be used as evidence with the bully’s parents, school, employer, or even the garda. You may want to take, save, and print screenshots of these to have for the future.
Most devices have settings that allow you to electronically block emails, IMs, or texts from specific people.
Although it’s hurtful, many teenagers who are bullied can’t resist the temptation to check websites or phones to see if there are new message.
Ask to “friend” or “follow” your teenagers on social media sites but do not abuse this privilege by commenting or posting anything to their profile. Check their postings and the sites they visit, and be aware of how they spend their time online. Talk to them about the importance of privacy and why it’s a bad idea to share personal information online, even with friends..
Encourage them to safeguard passwords and to never post their address or whereabouts when out and about.
And don’t forget to set a good example yourself — model good online habits to help your son or daughter to understand the benefits and the dangers of life in the digital world.