The youthful days spent at the park after school playing hopscotch, jump rope and four-square may be on the way out.
The new era of Facebook, YouTube and Vine are in.
If your kids have 500 friends on Facebook, or know more about DanTDM, Thomas Sanders or PewDiePie than Donald Duck or Felix the Cat…you are in the new era.
Although every parent will have their own set of rules for what their kids can access at home, chances are that your kids will see different things with different friends. For example, while some of us may not want our kids to use Snapchat, there will be kids on the playground who use it on their mobile devices…and share the information.
The nature of friendships is also changing from the customary friend at school, to the friend online. Most people online these days believe their circle of friends ranges from kids in the classroom, such as Sarah, Trevor and Camden, to friends in games such as LillyStarDancer, TopOfTheSpark and MushroomsRGreen333.
And, as in every relationship book out there explains, there will be upcoming problems .
One of the biggest problems out there is cyberbullying.
According to BullyingStatistics, cyberbullying is:
▪ Sending mean messages or threats to a person’s email account or cell phone
▪ Spreading rumors online or through texts
▪ Posting hurtful or threatening messages on social networking sites or web pages
▪ Stealing a person’s account information to break into their account and send damaging messages
▪ Pretending to be someone else online to hurt another person
▪ Taking unflattering pictures of a person and spreading them through cell phones or the Internet
▪ Sexting, or circulating sexually suggestive pictures or messages about a person
“Cyber bullying can be very damaging to adolescents and teens. It can lead to anxiety, depression, and even suicide. Also, once things are circulated on the Internet, they may never disappear, resurfacing at later times to renew the pain of cyber bullying.”
Times are definitely changing around us, and it is in our kids’ best interest to be aware of what is changing!
However, keeping on top of the ever-changing technology in our kids’ lives almost feels like grabbing handfuls of water.
What are some things about cyberbullying that we can specifically be aware about:
Relationships online: There are a number of online games which interact with other players. Some have a full-time staff to moderate behavior and language…but not all do! This is where you come in. What is the language being used? Is it age appropriate language? Is it aggressive language, or threatening language? Are other players asking your kids inappropriate questions about where they live, or what their parent’s names are? Be aware of what other players are saying, and especially what your kids are saying!
Cyberbullying: This is a huge problem in a day and age when people online have the veil of anonymity. Cyberbullying is usually in the form of constant harassing, and this behavior needs to be caught early. If your child feels harassed, ostracized, pressured, belittled, discriminated against or threatened…contact the site administrators immediately. In some cases it is necessary to inform police authorities about very serious cyberbullying. Be your child’s advocate and notice the warning signs, and take action against it immediately.
Develop Strategies for Cyberbullying Prevention: Before you find out it is too late, develop online strategies for keeping your kids safe online. Encourage kids to be responsible for their behavior, and to also be aware of other people’s behavior around them. Address problems they are having with other players and discuss whether or not it leads to healthy behavior for them. If not, help them remove themselves from the situation, report the behavior, and learn how to take action against cyberbullying.
Even though the statistics say that at least half of all teens online have experienced cyberbullying, there are things parents can do to prevent it from going any further!