Parents’ concerns about Internet safety were at one time confined to the computer. Today, kids have unlimited access to the Internet via smart phones and gaming devices. The potential for cyberbullying is alarmingly greater than ever.
Cyberbullying is when one minor uses technology as a weapon to target another young person. According to StopCyberbullying.org, elementary and middle schools report cyber-bullying as the most frequent problem they face. Twenty percent of kids in the fourth through sixth grade have reported one type of cyberbullying when playing games, including:
- Password theft
- Accessing and stealing virtual items
- Mean messages
What Parents Can Do
Parental involvement is vital to preventing cyberbullying and keeping kids safe online. Marsali Hancock, president and CEO of the Internet Keep Safe Coalition at www.ikeepsafe.org, recommends the following tips for parents to keep their children safe online:
- Keep current with technology. You don’t have to be an expert, but a little understanding goes a long way towards keeping your child safe online. Get basic technical training and learn about new products as they’re released.
- Keep communicating with your child about what he/she is experiencing on the Internet and with technology in general. Know their lingo, and ask when you don’t understand something. Work to keep communication lines open.
- Keep checking your child’s Internet activity. Know where they go online. Let them know that you’ll keep checking because you want them to understand that the Internet is a public forum and never truly private.
- Keep participating with your child’s online activities. They are the experts, so you can ask them to help you. This will increase your knowledge of the digital world and your relationship with your children.
What Kids Can Do
Help your children take responsibility for their protection by discuss the actions they can take to avoid cyberbullying. Insist they follow safe practice standards.
- Protect your name, identity and reputation by being careful not to share your name, contact information, or pictures.
- Realize that what is put in the digital world can stay there forever. Only post pictures that you would want your parents, peers and school to see.
- Create secure passwords. Passwords should be easy to remember, hard to guess. If you have to write it down, it’s too hard to remember. If it’s a pet’s name, your middle name, your favorite sports team, etc., it’s too easy to guess. Remember, a combination of numbers and letters is always best.
- Don’t share your passwords. Don’t allow kids to give out their password to others. Eighty-five percent of elementary school students and 70 percent of teens polled said they shared their password with at least one friend. That’s one friend too many. Friends can be cyberbullies too, signing onto your account, impersonating you and possibly embarrassing you. They can also change your password, locking you out of your account.
Families Can Play Together Online
For a fun and safe place for kids, parents and even grandparents to play together online, visit buildabearville.com. Build-A-Bear Workshop is committed to working together with kids, parents, educators, industry experts, policymakers, and law enforcement officials to make the Internet a safer place for kids though education and awareness. Keeping in the Holiday spirit, your family can visit the North Pole through Build A Bearville.
From BuildABearville, “This extension of our in-store experience enhances the traditional play patterns kids have with their stuffed animals, encouraging imagination, socialization, self-expression, creativity, self-esteem, and personal development. Signing up is FREE and there are no membership fees to enjoy the exclusive benefits of being a Build-A-Bearville citizen.
Content here was provided in part by Family Features.