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Cyber Security Awareness Month: Protect Your Child From Online Bullying!

We’ve all heard about the tragedies that have occurred over the last couple of years about children being bullied.   I was thinking back to when I was a child and being bullied.  I’ve been short my whole life and picked on about it to this day.  I hear about children committing suicide over this and I have to wonder,  why?  I’m simply wondering out loud why bullying has brought so many kids to the point of feeling their only option was to commit suicide?

When I was a kid, bullying was usually done face to face.  Online Bullying is a new form of bullying.  People can be so much more cruel online than they can be in person.  Read any news article, and then read comments below it.  People say horrific things to other people because it’s easier to do it in writing online than saying it in person.  It is very easy to depersonalize.  You don’t think of the person as a person, just as an online persona, or as an avatar on the screen.

I didn’t realize how many outlets kids have for bullying these days: email, blogs, messaging, texting and of course all of the social media sites.  In my day, it was at school, possibly after school and then I was home!  This form of bullying is non-stop and invading every aspect of a person’s life!

According to Norton’s article on Cyberbullying available here, there are warning signs:”

  • They appear nervous when receiving a text/online message or email.
  •  Habits with devices change. They may begin avoiding their devices or using them  excessively.
  •  They make excuses to avoid going to school.
  •  They become defensive or secretive about online activity.
  •  They withdraw from friends and family.
  •  They have physical symptoms such as trouble sleeping, stomach aches, headaches,  and weight loss or gain.
  •  They begin falling behind in school or acting out.
  •  Their grades start declining.
  •  They appear especially angry, frustrated or sad, particularly after going    online/checking devices. •
  • They delete social media or email accounts.”

Have discussions with your kids about this.  Ask them if they’ve ever been picked on via social media, texting and or emails.   Perhaps relay a story of your own about a time you were picked on in school, because let’s be honest haven’t we all at some point?   Make them feel comfortable talking to you about this.  I have a 4 year old who tells me she gets picked on at school.  I always let her discuss it with me.  Yes, it can start as early as 4!!!! She has also been the instigator too, so I have talked to her about that as well.  We need to teach our children it’s okay to talk about it, and it’s NOT ok to bully!

Other things you can do, monitor their screen time, make sure the computer is all up to date with updates, anti-virus, anti-malware and even put monitoring software on their like Net Nanny.

For more information on keeping your kids safe and talking to them about Cyberbullying, please visit these websites!

http://www.wiredsafety.com/

http://www.stopcyberbullying.org/

https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/

Also, my friend Tara Michener also does Anti-Bullying Campaigns and counseling for those who have been bullied.

 

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