The internet, no doubt has transformed positively the way we do things in the last ten years, especially in developing countries like Nigeria.
Despite the tremendous benefits associated with this innovation (The greatest innovation ever, in my opinion), there are still some fears that come with the internet.
One of those fears that the internet has brought is cyberbullying, a trend that triggers fears amongst parents.
Studies have shown that cyberbullying is the greatest fear of parents when their kids make use of the internet.
This is true, when you consider the growing prevalence of digital technologies in school, the Internet and smartphones, tablets are now the primary tools in bullying behavior
With the unlimited access to the internet through smart devices by of teens and kids of the present age, the negative surge of cyberbullying is believed to have surpassed kidnapping as the number one fear globally.
In simple terms, cyberbullying” is when someone appears to be tormenting, threatening, harassing, or embarrassing another young person using smart devices or technologies.
Meanwhile, cyberbullying comes in different forms such as harassment, flaming, masquerading, etc.
We have seen people create fake profiles of someone or someone impersonating another person with the negative intent of harming someone’s reputation.
In some cases, you share a private photo or a private message with someone, and you see that confidential stuff been spread all over the internet.
Why Cyberbullying Must be Fought Against
There are quite some reasons cyberbullying should be taken more seriously, because the negative implications of this surge are enormous.
Just think of the physical bullying, for instance, your kid goes to school everyday, and he is being bullied. You realize that such kid becomes reluctant to go to school again, whenever he remembers that one teacher is waiting for him in school.
Besides being unwilling to be in school again, such child is psychologically troubled. The emotional and psychological effects of cyberbullying are similar to those of real-life bullying
Further, such can experience negative physical and mental health issues. Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience. It can go as far as leading to depression, anxiety, feelings of sadness, loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, etc.
Empathically, there are several research that indicate that adults who were bullied as a youth were three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts or inclinations.
According to findings from the “2016 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report: Family Edition, “nearly 57 percent parents chose to check their child’s browser history, 46 percent only allow access to certain websites, 48 percent allow internet access only with parental supervision”.
“A concern for many parents is that cyberbullying doesn’t stop when their child leaves school as long as your child is connected to a device, a bully can connect to them,” said Ritesh Chopra, Country Manager, Norton by Symantec.
“Nearly one in three parents of children ages 12-17 agree that bullying is a more serious concern than other dangers, including domestic terrorism, car accidents, and suicide”, according to a national survey commissioned by Care.com.
What Parents Should do
Ironically, when a child is in trouble, the parents are the last sort of solution. Kids find it tough to open up to their parents when they are bullied online. Some of them fear that revealing to their parents about their situation will exacerbate the issue. Therefore, it becomes a herculean task to protect your child if you don’t understand the problem in the first instance.
If that is the case, here are some tips that could be adopted by parents to checkmate and prevent this negative surge.
Monitor you Kids
It is paramount to know what your kids are doing online. Most of the time, some of these kids spend time on social media such as Facebook, so understanding how various social networking websites work. You can sometimes ask your children for their Facebook status updates, profile pages or Facebook wall.
Try and Build Trust with your Kid
It’s not an ideal to always be harsh to your children in situations that require being relaxed and gentle. When you are known for being harsh, your kids become too afraid to open up, even if they are having issues online.
Always make them feel very relaxed, have discussions regularly with your children about online issues. You have to let them have confidence in you, tell them to come to you for help if anything is wrong, upsetting.
Let your kids understand the risks associated with the internet, discuss rules for online safety and Internet use. Set time limit for them, I mean how long they should spend on social media or the internet and task them to follow it.
Don’t Blame your Children
When your child is bullied online, don’t raise the dust by blaming them. When something of this nature happens, always be supportive and understanding. Figure out how long this has been happening and ensure that you work together with your kid to devise a solution, instead of blaming the child.
Other tips can be helpful as well, but the core remains that you should always know exactly what your kids are doing online.
I hope you find this helpful.