Young people are using the Internet more than ever and most have Internet access from home. For many children, the Internet isn't simply a convenient way to research or a fun afterschool activity - it's a big part of their social life. Emailing and chatting with friends are children's most common online activities, after studying and playing games. But like many other social situations, some kids bully other kids online.
Cyberbullying is similar to other types of bullying, except it takes place online and through text messages sent to cell phones. Cyberbullies can be classmates, online acquaintances, and even anonymous users, but most often they do know their victims.
Parents can help stop cyberbullying. You can start by talking to kids about the issue and teaching them the rules below that will help prevent cyberbullying from happening to them or someone they know.
What Kids Need to Know:
- Never give out personal information online, whether in instant message profiles, chat rooms, blogs, or personal websites.
- Never tell anyone but your parents your password, even friends.
- If someone sends a mean or threatening message, don't respond. Save it or print it out and show it to an adult.
- Never open emails from someone you don't know or from someone you know is a bully.
- Don't put anything online that you wouldn't want your classmates to see, even in email.
- Don't send messages when you're angry. Before clicking "send," ask yourself how you would feel if received the message.
- Help kids who are bullied online by not joining in and showing bullying messages to an adult.
- Always be as polite online as you are in person.
Since most cyberbullying takes place at home, it's important that parents know about cyberbullying and they get involved in preventing it. Just like parents help their kids avoid inappropriate websites, they can protect them from cyberbullying.
What Parents Can Do
- Keep your home computer in a busy area of your house.
- Set up email and chat accounts with your children. Make sure that you know their screen names and passwords and that they don't include any personal information in their online profiles.
- Regularly go over their instant messenger "buddy list" with them. Ask who each person is and how your children know him or her.
- Discuss cyberbullying with your children and ask if they have ever experienced it or seen it happen to someone.
- Tell your children that you won't blame them if they are cyberbullied. Emphasize that you won't take away their computer privileges - this is the main reason kids don't tell adults when they are cyberbullied.