Cyberbullying: Tips for Keeping Kids Safe Online

By: Joyce Fein | Monday, September 30, 2019 | Youth Development

Two boys use a tablet while an adult watches them in the background. Credit: iStock

Do you know what your child is doing online - more specifically, their online conversations and what they post on social media?  Even more important, do you know what other people are saying to your child online?  Have you talked with your child about cyberbullying?

Nationwide, about 20 percent of students ages 12-18 experienced bullying in 2017, according to the U.S. Government. Among students 12-18 who reported being bullied at school during the 2016-2017 school year, 15 percent were bullied online or by text.

Keeping kids safe online

Cyberbullying usually happens outside the view of adults, but there are still ways parents can help prevent it.

  1. Have a cyberbullying conversation. Some conversation starters include:
  • “I understand how important it is to communicate with your friends by phone and online.”
  • “You deserve to be safe from bullying online, just like at school.”
  • “If something happening online is hurtful to you, it is bullying and it’s important to tell me about it.”
  1. Set cyber safety rules, such as:
  • Not sharing emails or social media account passwords
  • Keeping social media accounts private
  • Helping your child to determine what is and is not appropriate to share online
  • Decide whether you, the parent, will have access to your child’s passwords
  • Set hours when technology can and can’t be used.
  1. Continue to be involved in your child’s online use. Be sure to frequently remind your child about the importance of established guidelines.  As a parent you have the responsibility to know what your child is doing online.  Explore parental control options and keep encouraging your child to talk with you about any inappropriate behavior, whether it’s happening to them or they see it directed at others.

How to combat bullying

Here are some of the ways that parents can help their children if they are experiencing bullying online or in person:

  1. Help kids understand bullying. Talk about what bullying is and how to stand up to it safely. Tell kids bullying is unacceptable. Make sure kids know how to get help.
  2. Keep the lines of communication open. Check in with kids often. Listen to them. Know their friends, ask about school, and understand their concerns.
  3. Encourage kids to do what they love. Special activities, interests, and hobbies can boost confidence, help kids make friends, and protect them from bullying behavior.
  4. Model how to treat others with kindness and respect.

In addition, community organizations like the Metro YMCAs of the Oranges welcome all and provide youth with opportunities to make healthy choices, enjoy a sense of accomplishment, and to try new activities. At the Y, youth can feel safe knowing they are supported and accepted.

Interested in learning more? The Wayne YMCA is offering a free Cyberbullying Workshop in partnership with Montclair State University on Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 7:15pm. Call 973-595-0100 for additional information.

-Joyce Fein is the marketing and community engagement director at the Wayne YMCA.


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