Strategies to help prevent your child Cyberbullying:
Supervision & Monitoring of Online Activities – Be cautious about allowing children to have network ready devices in supervised areas. Set the norm of asking about their online activities and evincing an interest in learning from them so it does not set up an unduly invasive tone.
Talk to Children about Cyberbullying - Parents should take the precaution of talking to children about cyberbullying and not wait until it happens. Make sure they understand why it is wrong to use cyberbully tactics or to assist or reinforce a classmate or friend who might be cyberbullying.
Reducing the Digital Divide Between Parents and Children – Parents should take advantage of the knowledge of their children and ask them to explain what they do online. In addition, parents should attend any awareness-raising courses that may be held either in school or as part of evening courses in the local community.
Netiquette - Cyberbullying can be prevented if a child appreciates that the internet is not just about technical skills, but about knowing how to conduct themselves online. Having good manners online is commonly referred to as ‘netiquette’ (online etiquette) and that there is another human at the far end of that screen who can be hurt as they can be hurt.
Talk to Children About the Legal Consequences of Cyberbullying - The more knowledgeable children are about the legal consequences of cyberbullying, the less likely they are to become involved in such behaviour.
Talk to Children About ‘False Fun’ – Often bullying is passed off as ‘a bit of fun’, or they say there were ‘only joking’. In poking fun online children must be confident that their intended target shares their sense of humour, because reactions cannot be seen. Often mistakes are made and sometimes what was meant to be funny backfires and causes considerable offence, children need to be aware of this.
Encourage listening - Help your child to listen to peers even if they do not share or are not particularly interested in their views. Being a good listener is as vital to successful social interactions as is having something to say.
Building Empathy - If you suspect that your child is lacking in compassion for others, are over fond of slagging or mocking others even if not to their face, then it will profit them if you help them to build a more empathic response. Children are less motivated to bully when they recognise the ill-effects of bullying.
Manage Reactions and Look to your own: Be aware of how you react and talk to others, including your child, encourage and practice speaking positively and help them recognise the triggers for emotions like anger and fear and find ways to manage them.
Deal with the Need for Acceptance/Affiliation – Children, especially teens, value hugely being part of a group/being accepted and admired by its members. It is this that can so often lead a child or teenager to initiate or be drawn into bullying. This is why it is important for parents to be aware of their child’s peer group, and to take cognisance of their child’s level of self-esteem/self-worth, and take steps to raise it outside of their peer group.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.