Digital Awareness for Parents
The digital world is constantly evolving with new social media platforms, apps, and devices, and children and teens are often the first to use them. Some negative things that may occur include cyberbullying, sexting, posting hateful messages or content, and participating in negative group conversations. If your child posts harmful or negative content online, it may not only harm other children; it can affect their online reputation, which can have negative implications for their employment or college admission.
While you may not be able to monitor all of your child’s activities, there are things you can do to prevent cyberbullying and protect your child from harmful digital behavior:
Monitor a teen’s social media sites, apps, and browsing history, if you have concerns that cyberbullying may be occurring.
Review or re-set your child’s phone location and privacy settings.
Follow or friend your teen on social media sites or have another trusted adult do so.
Stay up-to-date on the latest apps, social media platforms, and digital slang used by children and teens.
Know your child’s user names and passwords for email and social media.
Establish rules about appropriate digital behavior, content, and apps.
Digital Monitoring Apps and Software for Parents
Parents who want to protect their children from cyberbullying, harmful digital behavior, and exposure to adult content can use parental control and monitoring software to help them set up systems that are less invasive to their children.
There are free software options and apps available to help parents restrict content, block domains, or view their children’s online activities, including social media, without looking at their child’s device every day.
What Is Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.
The most common places where cyberbullying occurs are:
Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter
SMS (Short Message Service) also known as Text Message sent through devices
Instant Message (via devices, email provider services, apps, and social media messaging features)
Steps to Take Immediately
Don’t respond to and don’t forward cyberbullying messages.
Keep evidence of cyberbullying. Record the dates, times, and descriptions of instances when cyberbullying has occurred. Save and print screenshots, emails, and text messages. Use this evidence to report cyberbullying to web and cell phone service providers.
Block the person who is cyberbullying.
Report Cyberbullying to Law Enforcement and Online Service Providers
When cyberbullying involves these activities it is considered a crime and should be reported to law enforcement:
Threats of violence
Child pornography or sending sexually explicit messages or photos
Taking a photo or video of someone in a place where he or she would expect privacy
Stalking and hate crimes
Report Cyberbullying to Schools
Cyberbullying can create a disruptive environment at school and is often related to in-person bullying. The school can use the information to help inform prevention and response strategies.
In many states, schools are required to address cyberbullying in their anti-bullying policy. Some state laws also cover off-campus behavior that creates a hostile school environment.