Tips to keep your child safe in a technology based society from the Ascentive team
Although approximately half of U.S. students are impacted by bullying each school day on buses, in the cafeteria, gym, hallways, playground, and in classrooms, cyberbullying is on the verge of becoming an even greater threat. Cyberbullying is the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group that is intended to harm others. You can help stop cyberbullying by keeping an eye out for it and notifying the right people when it occurs. Here are six places where cyberbullies attack, and what to do when it happens.
It’s pretty much a given that your child has a cell phone. Cell phones are a great way to keep track of our children, as they allow us to get ahold of them immediately. Unfortunately, cyberbullies can attack your child through hurtful text messages and inappropriate photos and videos. Encourage your kids to come to you quickly if they are ever contacted inappropriately, and make sure they understand never to do the same to anyone. And above all else, warn them never to give out the password to their phone.
Similar to cellphones, cyberbullies can also attack through messaging clients like AOL instant messenger, iChat, or Google Chat. Tell your child to use their messaging client’s “block” button in the event that they are approached. And if their messenger doesn’t have a block button, have them switch to another one.
Your child’s email account is also fertile ground for cyberbulling. Fortunately, there are several remedies for it. If your child experiences cyberbullying via email, you can use an email filter and arrange for all the messages from the cyberbully to go to a special folder, then forward them on to the mail provider. You can also purchase special software for your computer that can track cyberbully emails from random people and send these emails to the cyberbully’s Internet Service Provider.
Although they can be a lot of fun to hang out in, a chat room can also be very dangerous, as a child often does not know whom they are really chatting with. If your child creates any chat accounts, make sure they do not put their name, age, address, or phone number in their profile or screen name, or pretend that they are someone they are not.
A blog can be a great means of self-expression, but also a source of trouble with cyberbullies when it comes to blog comments. If your child receives inappropriate comments on their blog, have them shut off the blog’s comments feature, and report the comments to the provider of the blogging software providers (such as Blogger or WordPress).
Finally, social networks like Facebook or Myspace are often a favorite hunting ground for cyberbullies. A common tactic is to create a fake Facebook or MySpace page to impersonate a fellow student and act inappropriately toward friends. In the event of an attack on a social network cyberbully, tell your child to contact the administrators of the social network immediately.
Many parents opt for monitoring software, such as BeAware, which can monitor chat rooms, instant messages, email, blogs, and even social networks.