Cyberbullying and your kids: Our expert weighs in
Thank you all very much for sending in an extensive list of questions about cyberbullying. Our expert, Effendy Ibrahim has helped answer your burning questions on this pertinent problem.
In today’s technology driven world, being connected and spending long amounts of time online has become a daily reality. However, despite all that the Internet has given us, it still poses threats and dangers – especially for our children. According to the Norton Online Family Report 2011, seven in 10 children in Singapore have experienced negative experiences online and nearly half (47%) have experienced a serious negative experience online, such as receiving inappropriate pictures from strangers, being bullied or becoming a victim of cybercrime. Faced with this issue, what can you as a parent do?
Our Norton Internet Safety Advocate, Effendy Ibrahim, has answered this and more of your questions. Effendy is passionate about promoting family online safety issues. A father of four boys, he has not only spearheaded numerous awareness, educational and innovative programs in the community, but has also been a vocal commentator on a range of topics including cyberbullying, social networking threats, Internet etiquette and safe online practices.
Question from a concerned parent: What is cyber bullying? And what signs should I look out for if I suspect my child is being cyberbullied?
Cyberbullying is cruel and anti-social behaviour that is committed by adults, teens and even children. The fact is that anyone can be a perpetrator or victim of this form of bullying. Cyberbullying is meant to hurt, harm, insult or humiliate individuals or groups, and can happen across all digital channels such as instant messaging, social networking sites, emails and blogs.
Tell-tale signs of cyberbullying
Although our children might not tell us if they are being cyberbullied, there are some tell-tale signs that parents should take note of, when your children:
- Begin to distant themselves from group of friends, activities or social situations.
- Leave schoolwork undone and their academic performance begins to suffer.
- Become more prone to becoming irritated, angry or moody, especially after using the Internet on their mobile devices or computers.
- Display signs of abnormal behaviour or any sudden changes.
What can you do as parents?
As parents, we have to be alert to these tell-tale signs and keep an eye out for these red-flag markers. Make it a point to talk to your children, ask them the right questions and be sensitive to their emotions, especially since this is not an easy topic for them to discuss with you.
How do I start talking to my child about cyberbullying?
It is important for you to create a conducive environment for your child to begin talking to you, so that they feel comfortable enough to confide the issues and problems they might be facing online.
Simple guidelines to follow as a parent:
- Try getting involved in your children’s online lives. For example, you can add them on your social networking account. However, it is important though that you don’t actively interact with them online. Be a silent observer and if you notice any inappropriate behaviour or activity, make it a point to talk to them in private.
- Maintain and open and honest dialogue with your children. This can be tough for some parents especially since their children know much more about the internet than they might. You can start by taking the first step and becoming more involved in their daily lives: ask them about their interests online, such as “What are your favourite websites?”, “Which websites do you and your friends frequent online?” and “What are some of the interesting videos you have watched on YouTube recently?” Also, don’t be embarrassed to ask for help on online applications from your kids such as “Can you teach me how to use certain applications online?”
This helps create an open line of communication between you and your child, and a level of openness and trust can develop. This helps your child feel comfortable enough to confide in you when they are facing problems online. You would be seen as their first point of call, instead of the last. Remember to reassure them always and inform them that cyberbullying is more common than they think and that they can come to you for advise, counsel and guidance.
We hope you have found this useful and have a better understanding of cyberbullying. Look out for our next video where Effendy will answer more of your questions.
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