If you're a parent, you've no doubt read about teens who tragically took their own lives after they were allegedly subjected to bullying and cyberbullying with a mixture of dismay, indignation, and fear. Stories like those of Audrie Pott and Rehtaeh Parsons, two teens who recently committed suicide after they were allegedly sexually assaulted and cyberbullied after the attacks, and that of Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old South Hadley, Massachusetts student who hanged herself after relentless bullying and cyberbullying, leave me wondering several things: How can kids be so cruel to each other? How can we teach our children that while electronic communication--texts, social media posts, emails--may make it easier for kids to inflict pain and spread vicious rumors and gossip because it's removed and not face-to-face, cyberbullying is just as harmful and scarring as (and sometimes even more damaging than) a slap or a punch or a kick? And, chiefly, at least in my mind, how can we as parents protect our school-age children as they grow older and are increasingly more independent and out there in cyberspace without constant and close supervision?
One of the most important things we can do in this tech-driven age we live in is to make sure we teach kids about bullying and cyberbullying. Teach your grade-school age child now what it means to be safe online and set up habits that will make your child safer as he navigates the wide world of cyberspace. Keep the computers in a central place in your home, monitor your child's online and cell phone activity, and talk to your kids now about cyberbulling. For more tips, read my article, "Cyberbullying and Grade School-Age Kids."
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- What is Cyberbullying?
- Internet Safety for Kids
- Social Media for Kids: How to Keep Them Safe
- Bullying in Schools