Preventing Cyber Bullying in the iPad Age

Jan 27, 2020 by

If you remember your elementary school days, you probably recall chalkboards, whiteboards and a single chunky desktop computer in the classroom. And even if you grew up in the ’90s, you probably remember the same, with a few more computers or projectors thrown in. 

But since then, the mass production and availability of technology has allowed advanced tech inside and outside the classroom. Today, nearly all children ages eight and under live with a mobile device in the home. And roughly 42% of these children have their own tablets.

While some may find this useful for educational purposes, 68% are concerned about the risks associated with smart devices, such as cyberbullying. Not many researchers have conducted studies concerning elementary school-aged children and cyberbullying since smart devices are more prevalent among older children. However, a 2012 study — which included 11,700 third, fourth and fifth-graders — found that about 18% of those with a smartphone admitted to cyberbullying and roughly 34% reported being a victim. And these numbers may have increased in the past seven years. 

Talk to Kids About Cyber Bullying 

With more kids gaining internet access at an earlier age, it’s crucial to talk to your children about the risks and dangers of smart devices, from phones to iPads. Begin a general discussion about current apps and how people use them. This talk may give you insight into what exactly your child does online. 

Let your child know you are comfortable talking about bullying as well. If you initiate the conversation, they may be more comfortable telling you about their personal experience with it.

Additionally, if your child uses the internet as part of their education, they may be spending 15% to 30% of their school day in front of a screen. While they may learn a lot, this does put them at an increased risk for cyberbullying. Whether they know the children they’re communicating with or not, they still may be susceptible to harassment. 

Talk to them about this danger and discuss the importance of online safety. Teaching your kids about staying safe is especially important since you won’t be able to monitor their every move. 

Tips for Preventing Cyber Bullying 

In addition to discussing cyberbullying, you should take extra measures to ensure they don’t fall victim to harassment or become a bully. Sometimes kids don’t realize the dangers of apps or the internet until they experience them firsthand. Of course, if you’d rather spare them that harsh lesson, step in and monitor their technology usage. 

From setting ground rules to teaching tech safety, there are numerous ways you can protect your child: 

Investigate Tech Use

The first step to protecting your child is finding out what they do online. What apps do they frequently use? How do they communicate with friends? Look into any accounts they have made. These include popular ones like Facebook and Instagram but may also extend to accounts within apps. 

If you don’t understand what a specific app is for, download it yourself and play around with it. Then, commit to staying informed on upcoming apps, games and networking sites so you can be one step ahead of the game. 

Set Rules 

If you decide some of the applications or sites your child is using are unsafe, or they are using them to bully, it’s time to lay down the law. That also goes for any incidents where they’re the person receiving the bullying. Either have them delete their account, block the other person or monitor their use.

Tell your child you will confiscate their device if there’s a reason for concern. Emphasize that you’re doing this to protect them, not punish them. Further, encourage your child to think critically about things they message and post before doing so.

Teach Safety 

While most forms of social networking and online activity are harmless, every type of communication comes with risks. Teach your child that everything they say and do on a site or app may be there forever, even if they delete it. Nothing is ever truly private. Talk to them about self-respect and being a good person on the internet as well as in person. To keep themselves and their reputation safe, they shouldn’t send risky photos or gossip to others — or share anything of that sort publicly. 

Be Available 

Make yourself available to your child. Let them know they can always talk to you, no matter the situation. If they do something online that they regret, and they tell you, don’t overreact. Approach the situation with love and concern. Likewise, if they express that someone is bullying them, respond with care, and take measures to block the individual or address the incident accordingly. 

When your child feels they can trust you, they’ll be more open and honest, which will allow you to do your very best job of protecting them. 

Stopping Harassment in Its Tracks

With these steps, you’ll have the tools to protect your kids from harm no matter what medium it comes in. Be aware of what your children do on the internet, and ensure that their technology usage won’t become more of an emotional nightmare than a fun hobby.

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