Five tips to help your child survive cyberbullying

Cyberbullying has been in the news a lot recently, and new legislation coming through will finally give the legal system the means to act. Any digital communication that causes harm or offense will be liable for legal action.

Most New Zealand kids have access to the internet every day, often through schools and mobile devices. Below are some tips to help your kids benefit from technology – without being harmed by it.

1. Good parenting creates character and that affects everything. If your kids have learnt self-control around food, good manners with friends, readily obey rules in games and are basically well disciplined… then they will probably be well behaved online as well.  

2. Age-appropriate supervision. Both the benefits and dangers of technology are real. Your kids will eventually be able to handle the risks without you if they encounter them first with you. The internet is like a city – and like any city, even a wonderful one, you go there with your child first rather than just let them wander alone. Talk about what they do. It is a big part of their world – be genuinely interested rather than dismissive and scolding.

3. The big rules. Never arrange a ‘real world’ meeting with someone you meet online, and never give addresses or personal details out online. There are other rules as well, around time they spend online and messaging ‘etiquette’. Check out Netsafe for a full discussion of these issues. 

4. Bullying is bullying. Many of the dynamics of text-and-social-media-bullying are the same as playground bullying. Whatever you do to enhance your kids’ self-esteem and communication skills increases their ability to resist and deflect bullying.

5. Let kids know that you will always support them. Most kids don’t tell parents and teachers about bullying. They fear parents will over-react and exacerbate the situation or (an even worse fear) take away their phone or internet access. So, talk beforehand about what would be good ways to react to and handle different situations, so they know that you are caring and also trustworthy.

Based on: Hot Tip from The Parenting Place