Due to the rise in social media popularity, cyberbullying is now the most common form of bullying in today's society. In honor of Stop Cyberbullying Day 2016, here are some important tips for dealing with the negative effects of social media on teenagers:
Be knowledgeable about different social media platforms.
The first step towards dealing effectively with social media bullying is familiarizing yourself, as a parent, to the vast array of social media applications and websites. Ask your child what some of his or her favorite social media sites are and then do some research on your own. Determine what constitutes a post, comment, photo, like, or share on each unique site. Become familiar with privacy policies and settings available for different applications that could help protect your child from cyberbullying. Locate the tool on each site that can be used to report inappropriate or threatening content and assess whether or not your child understands how to use this tool. It is also important to stay informed about cyber bullying facts for kids, including warning signs for children that may be experiencing bullying online
Start the conversation about your child's social life online.
Over 90% of cyberbullying victims do not report the incidents to their parents. Keep communication open and free of judgment so that your child feels comfortable telling you about potential social media bullying issues. Ask your children what they like to use each platform for and ask if they have ever felt threatened or bullied by other people on the sites. If your children do not feel comfortable talking to you about their social media lives, be sure to remind them that there are other people who can help if communications get hostile or uncomfortable. Give them the phone number of a school counselor or trusted family friend. Even if your teen seems to blow off the information, it is helpful to introduce multiple avenues for reporting bullying for their future reference.
Establish a "test" for safe, friendly communication.
One of the most popular tests that parents can use to determine if a message or image is appropriate to post is the News Headline test. Talk to your teens about only posting information or pictures that they would feel comfortable having broadcast as the main story on the national news. For comments or responses to other posts, suggest considering whether or not your child would be willing to speak the comment, out loud, in person to the other individual.
Remove negative people and sources from your child's social media feed.
Recommend that your teens clean out the nasty, unwanted negative substance filling their social media newsfeeds. Suggest a one-day clean out, where the child scrolls through their social media applications and immediately removes, deletes, or blocks any individual who posts something hurtful or inappropriate. Reminding your children about the cold, hard facts about cyberbullying and its effects as well as sharing some real world examples can help your child identify what cyberbullying looks like and what people or websites do not deserve their time or attention.
In the unfortunate case of a previous or current bully existing in your children's social media world, teach your child how to deal with internet bullies by offering them different ROADS to take.
- R eport it!
Report the instances of abuse and the bully's profile to the social media site, cell phone companies, online service providers, law enforcement, and schools (especially if the identity and school affiliation of the bully is known).
- O pen a new account.
Set up a new account for your child and ensure that the highest privacy settings are enabled so that the bully no longer has access to your child's profile and information. Remind your kids that there is a never a need to allow a negative person to become a social media "friend" or follower.
- A sk for help or advice.
Keeping the channels of communication open so teens feel safe asking for help when a bully approaches.
- D elete and detach.
Delete old accounts or applications on which the bullying occurs. Encourage your teens to unplug from technology for a while and participate in something healthy and safe that brings them joy.
- S ave the evidence.
Save any negative posts, comments, or other direct messages that the bully uses to harass your child. This evidence should also be delivered to the authorities to which you report the offense.