When we start thinking of Cyberbullying, we worry about teens or older kids who have just entered high school. But the truth is that cyberbullying is a common phenomenon with younger kids as well. If your kid has a smartphone in their hands despite them being only 6 or eight years old then it is not too soon to start worrying about cyberbullying.
Here’s how you can get ahead of it:
1. Have a conversation early
If your child has a smartphone, you can be sure that they will end up exploring social media, chat groups and other interactive games and apps. It is better to communicate with them about this technology before they access it. Talk to your child about all the possibilities and even that of bullying. Tell them that you acknowledge it might be difficult for them to reach out to you in case of bullying, but that it is the right choice.
If your child knows that you will be supportive, then they are more likely to approach you in cases of cyberbullying. They will also understand what kind of behaviour is wrong on the internet and are less likely to bully someone.
2. Set clear cyber rules and guidelines
The way you have rules and guidelines for your kids in the physical world, tell them that there are safety rules for the online or the virtual world too. Inform them the basic safety rules of not sharing their password with anyone online or any important personal detail. Also explain to them how people are not always what they claim to be online and so there must be boundaries on what is right to be shared online and what is not.
Establish clear rules that they must not hurt anyone online by being harsh or rude just like the real world. Establish rules related to technology in the household too. When are they not supposed to use the smartphone, what time is the bedtime, whether or not they are allowed to keep the smartphone in their room.
3. Stay involved in your child’s changing cyber world
Explore parental control options through internet and stay in touch with your child’s online lives. Monitor what they post online and encourage them to talk to you in case they have any queries. Inform them beforehand that you will have their account passwords for email and social media. Be their online friend and set limits on circumstances under which you will access their account.
Stay up to date with the changes and as a parent it is your responsibility to ensure that your child has a safe cyber experience.