Mobiles and Bullying
Why bullying Advice for parents is necessary?
Smartphones and mobile devices are defining how young people communicate, the social networks they interact with, how they access information and learn at school as mobile technology becomes part of the curriculum. These devices help parents stay in touch with their children and assist families to balance their busy lives.
Like all technology, mobile telecommunications can be misused. While the positive aspects of mobile phones far outweigh any negatives, parents in assisting their children to be smart, safe and responsible users of mobile technology.
Although there can be a “digital divide” between parents and their children, it is important for parents to realize that the normal rules of parenting still apply.
What is Cyberbullying?
Bullying, unfortunately, has been with us a long time. What makes cyberbulling different is that the speed and the 24/7digital world means children can be bullied anywhere at any time.
Cyberbullies misuse and abuse mobile phones to intimidate, harass, humiliate and frighten victims. Cyberbullying can take a number of forms:
- Flaming – a disagreement between two people spreads flame-like to other people.
- Harassment – sending hurtful text or instant messages, emails, or posting hurtful messages or embarrassing photos on social networking sites to torment, humiliate or intimidate.
- Denigration – putting someone down to make others think less of them.
- Impersonation – pretending to be another person online and tricking people to tell you things that they otherwise would not if they knew your true identity, or behaving unacceptably so the person you’re impersonating gets the blame.
- Outing and trickery – tricking people to believe that you are someone else.
- Exclusion – not allowing someone to participate in an online group.
- Cyber-stalking – tracking someone through cyberspace to different sites and posting where they post.
These activities can leave young people experiencing:
- Mood changes such as: Anger, embarrassment and fear
- Reluctance to go to school
- Poor performance at school
- Loss of confidence and self-esteem; avoiding socializing with friends
- Revenge cyberbullying
- In extreme circumstances it can lead to self-harm or attempted suicide
Bullying Advice for parents
Following are some of the bullying advice for parents:
There may be a technology gap between what your child knows about mobiles and how much you know. However, remember you don’t have to be a tech expert to help your child remain safe from cyberbullying.
You can offer life skills, maturity and experience to your child when they need help. Right and wrong are the same in the online world as in the real world and it takes a combination of social and technical skills to tackle cyberbullying. You can help.
Take responsibility by setting rules and developing children’s cyber-safety skills. Help children have a positive experience by setting rules for the sorts of materials children can share online, about the content they can access and the social network sites they are allowed to join.
Try and understand the sites and technology your children use and know who they are talking to.
Communication is the key:
If your child tells you they have been cyberbullied or you suspect something is wrong because of signs of stress, you should offer them emotional and practical advice.
It is crucial to communicate with your child and encourage them to discuss the incident with you. Cyberbullying is about relationships not technology. It’s important to stay calm to deal rationally and effectively with the problem and reassure them they have done the right thing in telling you. It could make matters worse if you threaten to take away their mobile phone because of their attachment to it and its importance in their lives. Such a threat could prevent them telling you about bullying or other problems – and there are other less drastic solutions you can implement together.
Children who have been cyberbullied often feel embarrassed, humiliated, fear their plight will be trivialised and they will be made to feel guilty by adults. You need to stress it’s not their fault.
Develop Strategies to deal with Cyber Bullying
You need to work with your child to develop strategies to deal with cyberbullying.
Your child needs to protect themselves
- Only give their phone number and usernames/profile details to trusted friends and don’t give someone else’s contact details without their permission.
- Use caller ID blocking to hide their number when they call someone.
- Think before they send a text, message, post a photo or make a call. Don’t send anything that they would not want their parents or teachers to see. Don’t post or forward offensive material they receive about someone else because that could make them a cyberbully.
- Mobiles hold a lot of private information. Protect it by using the security PIN for the handset, SIM and voice messages.
- Sharing sexual or naked images, videos or text messages or “sexting” is stupid. They’re vulnerable if it falls into the wrong hands. Also, it could be child pornography if the images are of anyone under 18 and the police may get involved.
- Only download music, games and apps from legitimate websites. Using untrustworthy websites can expose your child to serious online security risks, such as sending personal information to unauthorised individuals.
What to do if they receive unwanted messages or calls
- Ignore the cyberbully. Don’t respond. Stay calm. The bully probably just wants to upset your child and if they get no response they may get bored and go away.
- “Unfriend” the cyberbully or otherwise block them from your child’s social networking page. If a social networking account is being attacked, consider closing down the account and/or informing the service provider.
- Save the offensive texts, emails or voice messages. The time, date and offensive content can be used to investigate the cyberbully to ensure they don’t do it again.
- Your phone company can help you deal with unwanted or nuisance phone calls.
They are not alone. Get help
- They don’t need to face this alone. They can get help by talking to their parent, carer, a trusted friend, older brother or sister, or teacher. Despite a generation technology gap, adults have a lot of life experience and they can help children through this distressing period.
- Cyberbullies mistakenly believe they can get away with it because they are anonymous – not true. Cyberbullies risk committing criminal offenses with threatening and menacing communications and the law is on your side.
- The 24/7 nature of mobile technology can allow cyberbullies to threaten around the clock. Give your child a break and turn the handset off sometimes. Teenagers often take their mobiles to bed so maybe keep the mobile out of the bedroom at night.
- If your child’s friend is cyberbullied they could stand up and speak out for them. Your child would want friends to do the same.
- Inform your child’s school if the cyberbully is a student.
- If your child feels physically threatened by a cyberbully you can contact the police.
I hope you like these bullying advice for parents.
Image source: thesun.co.uk