Did you know that 42 per cent of Canadian youth have been targets of cyberbullying? A joint study by child safety organizations MediaSmarts, PrevNet, and Telus also found that 60 per cent of youth online have witnessed bullying attacks.
Here are four ways that parents can work with their kids to halt cyberbullying and make the Internet safer:
- Listen and Engage
“Talking to your kids about cyberbullying is essential,” says Shelly Smith, director of Telus Wise. “Thirty-three per cent of children say they don’t feel like they’re getting good enough advice from adults. There’s a real opportunity to change that.”
This means having regular conversations about their Internet activities and what they witness online. Be ready to listen to your teen and be their advocate. Cyberbullying can quickly escalate and requires swift adult intervention.
Inevitably, your child will interact with peers online, most often through a smartphone. Ask them to do so in common spaces so you can keep an open dialogue.
- Stay Informed
Cyberbullying evolves quickly so your best weapon is information. To stay current, regularly check information from the PrevNet, MediaSmarts, and Telus Wise organizations, all of which have a large database of resources that you can share with your children.
- Keep Records
If you do need to confront a cyberbullying issue, thorough records will help. Encourage kids to save threatening emails, social media postings, and other hostile chats. Also, regularly check browser history and save anything that raises an alarm.
- Understand the Options for Intervening
Talk to your children about their choices for addressing cyberbullying. Teens especially can reach out to comfort a target, or talk to school administrators, like teachers or principals, and in extreme cases, bring the issue to the police. Parents are always encouraged to offer guidance along the way.
Growing up has never been easy, but the threat of cyberbullying makes it even more tricky. You can help your child feel safe by providing the tools and support to safely connect with others.