71% of Kids Cyberbullied: How to Protect Your Kids

February 6, 2009 at 7:25 pm Leave a comment

cyberbully

 UCLA’s study citing that 71% of 12-17 year olds have been cyberbullied in the last year  is indeed concerning, but most worrisome to me is that only 1 in 10 kids reports the bullying to parents or adults, citing several reasons for their hesitation:

The most common reason for not telling an adult, cited by half the bullied participants, was that teens believe they “need to learn to deal with it.” In addition, 31 percent reported that they do not tell because they are concerned their parents might restrict their Internet access. This concern was especially common among girls between the ages of 12 and 14, with 46 percent fearing restrictions, compared with 27 percent of boys in the same age group. One-third of 12-to-14-year-olds reported that they didn’t tell an adult out of fear that they could get into trouble with their parents.

What are parents to do? Being proactive is the best way for parents to prevent their children from being victims of continual cyberbullying.   Teaching your kids practices and expectations for safe internet surfing and online interactions is the best way to prevent the kids you love from becoming victims.  One of the many content areas we at OneSeventeen Media are excited to address is digital citizenship.  We look forward to partnering with the PlumbBrain community to tackle tough topics like cyberbullying and provide practical, useful solutions and resources for kids and parents.  

An idea I find appealing is to create an Internet User Policy for your household, with adults and kids contributing in the process.  Schools, libraries, community centers and most any public access points have Internet User Polices, and maybe your home should too. 

Creating a policy would be a great way for parents to share their knowledge about digital citizenship, as well as provide strategies for dealing with cyberbullies.  Be sure to make this process a conversation with your kids and solicit their input for what they think is fair and helpful to them.   As part of the conversation, I would definitely include for kids (on an age appropriate level) concerns about cyberbullying. Consider phrasing it in a way that affirms their abilities to deal with negative influences/comments correctly, but points out how cyberbullying can quickly escalate out of control.  Also make sure that your kids understand what cyberbullying is so that they aren’t perpetuating the cycle.

In regards to cyberbullying reporting, outline for kids some possible options/outcomes if they were to present you with a case of cyberbullying.  You can address some of the concerns of teens who don’t report problems to reinforce for your child that you’re a safe place to turn. This requires parents to be a bit tech savvy, but depending on the circumstances, have some options available.  If kids think reporting online problems to you means they’ll get internet privileges taken away, they’ll stay mum to protect their online social standing.  Suggestions include (but aren’t limited to, and not all are appropriate for various situations) changing passwords, changing user names, blocking individuals, adjusting privacy settings, avoiding problematic sites, reporting abusive behavior to site administrators and the ones your kids won’t like — talking to the bully’s parents or school administrators.  See if you can’t find some common ground with your kids to set guidelines you can both live with.

Other areas to consider addressing in your home user policy — hours for computer usage, content, visibility, parent oversight and privacy.  We’d love to hear from any parents or youth who have home user policies, or suggestions for what to include in a policy.  We look forward to being able to provide more resources, templates interactive activities, and member content addressing digital citizenship and cyberbullying through PlumbBrain.  

(Image found here)

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Entry filed under: Cyberbullying, Digital Citizenship, Kids, OneSeventeen Media, Online Safety, Parents, PlumbBrain. Tags: , , , , .

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