Can you think of a time during your childhood or teen years when you were picked on, put-down, or even shamed by other children or teens? It felt like you were “the only one” or that “everyone” was against you.
Most of us can remember these experiences vividly because of the emotional turmoil involved. Our young people today have these experiences also with one important difference: the Internet.
Those against them or at least aware of their shame could actually be everyone.
We have to do more to protect our children. Here are ten things I have gathered from several sources.
- Teach that all rules for interacting with people in person also apply online and in texting.
- Limit online privileges age appropriately. Don’t give too much access too soon.
- Be present in their online world. Text, Facebook friend, go to their pages, etc.
- Model appropriate online behavior.
- Teach how context can dramatically change meaning and online context is often unclear. Consider the difference in “Fire!” yelled by a firefighter or a soldier in battle or a toddler by a fireplace.
- Use filtering and accountability software. It’s like the fence that surrounds the playground.
- Establish a contract or covenant. List expectations and consequences. Sign it and post it.
- Teach the three R’s of responding to cyber bullying: reject (tell them to stop), record (keep all evidence), report (keeping telling adults until one helps you).
- Teach the Golden Rule still applies even when online.
- Pray. After each online session ask your child to choose someone online to pray for with you.
(Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. (2009, July 30). Preventing Cyberbullying: Top Ten Tips for Parents. Retrieved from Cyberbullying Research Center: http://www.cyberbullying.us/Top_Ten_Tips_Parents_Cyberbullying_Response.pdf)
(Mueller, W. (2012). A Parents’ Guide To Cyberbullying. Retrieved from CPYU’s Digital Kids Initiative: http://www.digitalkidsinitiative.com/files/2012/01/Cyberbully_handout.pdf)
(Tooley, E. (2013, March 8). In the world but not of the world: Social media and the struggle to keep our children safe and pure. National Christian School Association Annual Conference. Oklahoma City, OK: Speaker’s PowerPoint.)