Cyber Bullying and Sexting, Protecting Your Children
Do you let your young children and teenagers use social media without supervision. Do you allow your kids to text freely on a mobile phone, without screening their messages?
If the answer is yes, then it is very important that you are aware about the dangers of Cyber Bullying & Sexting, and how to protect your children.
This article, Cyber Bullying and Sexting, Protecting Your Children, is designed to teach both you the parent and your children how to self-protect and deal with, Cyber-bullies and Sexting offenders.
Both Cyber Bullying and Sexting are two very real and all too commonly occurring acts of personal violation that all people can be, but especially teenagers and children, are exposed to on a daily basis.
The Dangerous & Negative Affects Of Cyber-Bullying On Our Youth
Young people who are victims of either Cyber-bullying or Sexting, can experience major negative, physiological effects, such as depression, extreme anxiety, and tragically more than a few teenagers and children have even become suicidal.
See – Cyber Bullying Statistics 2014
Suicide ranks as the no.3 cause of death in young people in the USA, with the 10-14 year old age bracket being most at risk.
In 2013 in the USA at least 9 reported teenage suicides were linked to Cyber Bullying.
See NoBulling.com’s article – How to Prevent Cyber Bullying
Cyber-bullying and Sexting has become such a global problem, that governments all over the world and other organizations, such as Kids Helpline, have set up websites, published material and featured Community Service Ads, devoted entirely to helping protect our children’s safety.
Cyberbullying and Sexting Definitions
Cyber-bullying “involves 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.”en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberbullying
Sexting “is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs, primarily between mobile phones. The term was first popularized around 2005, and is a portmanteau of sex and texting, where the latter is meant in the wide sense of sending a text possibly with images.”en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexting
How Parents Can Protect Their Children From Cyber Bullying & Sexting
It is vital that we know all the sites and applications our kids are exposed to and using; e.g. Face-book, Twitter, Instagram, Chat Rooms, Blogs and other Social Networking sites.
It is just as important that we then learn how to use and navigate these sites ourselves, so we are able to monitor what our children are viewing and if necessary step in.
- Parents need to do as much as they possibly can to control what kids are viewing on the Internet and who they are interacting with.
- Parents should always know who their children are talking to and exchanging text messages with.
- We need to educate our children as soon as they are using the internet unsupervised them about the potential risks of Cyber Bullying.
- It is important to give children firm rules and boundaries on using web and mobile phones as a social mediums.
- It is crucial to establish a relationship with your child of openness and trust. You child should feels that he can come to you without fear of being reprimanded, if he has been interacting with someone on the web or via text and it has gotten out of hand.
Guidelines For Parents To Help Protect Kids From Being Cyber Bullied & The Dangers Of Sexting
- Teach your children to never give anyone, including friends, their last name, address, or phone numbers over the Internet, or via texting.
- Teach your children to never give anyone, including their friends, any passwords.
- Make sure the computers in your home are in the family areas where you can supervise your children.
- Tell your children to always, come to you straight away if anyone sends, or shows them something that makes them at all feel scared, uncomfortable, or nervous. Make sure your kids feel it is okay and that they won’t get into trouble with you, if they do come to you, even if they have played a part in the situation e.g they too said, or posted inappropriate things.
- Teach them never EVER to answer questions from people they don’t know.
- Explain to your children, that just because they read, or saw it on the Internet doesn’t make it factual, or real.
- Explain that people they meet online, may, or may not, be who they say they are and that people can post photos of themselves that aren’t actually them.
- Teach your children, never to accept friends requests from people they don’t know, especially adults and older teenagers.
- Make sure your children know, to never meet up with someone they met online, unless arranged and supervised by an adult.
- Your children’s email address, or face-book pages etc. should never include their surname, address, or phone numbers.
- You should always be able to access your children’s face-book and other social media pages, their emails and their text messages.
- As your children become teenagers and they start to value and want their privacy, make sure they have a very clear understanding what to do should they become a victim of Cyber Bullying or Sexting. If they don’t feel comfortable, or are to embarrassed to come to you for help, then make sure they know that there are specialized helplines they can call; e.g; Kids Helpline, where they can remain anonymous but get the help they need.
The Australian Government has produced some excellent brochures available online here. They provide both you and your children, with great advice on keeping safe in Cyberspace. The Kids Helpline Campaign, ‘Make Cyberspace a better Place‘, also has very important and useful information,that all parents should read.
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