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The cyber world can be a scary place sometimes. With very little accountability, people can get away with things online that they would never get away with otherwise. Cyberbullying is just as harmful as face-to-face bullying; it can endanger a young person's emotional health, social life, academic performance, and personal safety. Because of this, parental involvement is very important for kids and teens that own electronics. Here are five ways to help your child stay safe on the Internet.
1. Do your research.
As a parent, it is up to you to do whatever you can protect your child. This means you will have to do a little bit of research. You need to find out the risks that your child takes when they use electronics. What is the worst that could happen? Remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Also, remember that if your child is experiencing cyberbullying or stalking, they may not tell you right away. Thus, it is important to know the signs. Cyberbullying may result in loss of confidence, lower grades, apathetic attitude, a desire to hide their phone screen from authorities, etc. A little bit of knowledge goes a long way in recognizing and preventing harmful situations.
2. Talk to your kids - more than once.
You need to talk with your kids about the pros and the cons of having a phone. This shouldn't be just a one-time thing. Check up with them often. Let them know that having a phone is a responsibility. They need to know the seriousness of Internet dangers. Of course, cyberbullying is not the most fun thing to talk about. But if you consider your child old enough to have a phone, they are also old enough to know the potential hazards of the Internet. Be honest with them. Also, make sure you let them know that you are only concerned because you care about them and have their best interests at heart.
3. Establish rules.
It is a good idea to establish rules right from the very beginning. You might ask your child to turn off the phone at a specific time of night and/or put the phone aside during family meal times. You might ask your child not to go to specific websites or watch specific things. Depending on the age of your child, you may want to install a filter or parental controls. Regulating phone use is not just beneficial for a child's safety, but is also healthier for them. So figure out what your specific family needs and establish rules for electronic use.
4. Know what is going on in your child's online life.
One of the best things parents can do is be aware of what their child is viewing, who their child is messaging, and what kinds of messages their child is sending and receiving. Text message monitoring and other parental controls are extremely useful because young people do not always recognize cyberbullying at first, and if they do, they do not know how to deal with it. With parents on board, a young person can stay safe and learn how to avoid potentially harmful situations themselves.
5. Confront concerns right away.
Don't wait to confront something that might turn into an issue. It is far better to nip something in the bud than let it grow into a bigger problem. It might be as simple as asking your child not to respond to a comment, or it might be as drastic as blocking a certain person or deleting an account. Remember that your child's safety is worth some action!
At Futures Academy, the campus culture is welcoming and our students and staff make sure everyone is known and belongs. Our students excel in a nurturing environment, an atmosphere free from bullying, and most importantly, a school focused on their success. If you would like more information about our innovative learning model or to find a campus location near you, please contact us.