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Technology continues its march toward progress whether we want it to or not. As technology grows, it adapts and changes right before our very eyes. It’s no wonder that it now takes up such a large portion of our time.
Advancements in technologies can be a bit of a mixed bag, especially when it comes to raising our children. I grew up listening to stories about how my parents would need to be home by the time the street lights came on. Outside of that, in those times if your child left the home, it was mostly up to them to make it back home safely. We now have easier ways to keep in touch with our children. From cellphones to other devices with GPS installed trackers, now if your child goes out, there are more tools than ever at our disposal to help us know where they are. This is just one example of technology making us safer.
But is there such a thing as too much technology or tech overload? I would argue yes. While technology certainly has made our lives easier and more convenient in many ways ( I mean, I’m certainly not writing this article on a typewriter or chiseling it on a stone tablet), it has also opened the door to plenty of issues that generations in the past would have never fathomed they would have to deal and cope with. One example is cyberbullying. According to recent statistics, over 40% of children have been victims of cyberbullying. In the past when a child was bullied at school, the bullying more or less stopped once the child was home and away from the bully. In today’s times, bullying through online mediums allows for harsh words and name calling to follow our children home at the end of the day. It’s almost as if the bully hitches a ride with our children in their backpack or wherever they happen to keep their phone on the way home from school.
How times have changed
Our children are living in a time when the world is more connected than ever and that can be a beautiful thing, children can be exposed to new ideas and cultures at the click of a button (or rather tap of a screen). But the dark side of this connection is that a child’s safe haven can be stolen from them. When the bullying and harassment follows you home, even home doesn’t feel as safe and comforting anymore.
So what can we as parents do to help our children navigate these technological situations?
Steps we can take
Step 1 Start a conversation:
Even though the world is so connected today, for the child getting bullied, it can certainly feel like an isolating place. A bullied child will often feel like “no one understands me.” It may not be the easiest conversation to start, but by showing our children that we care and are here to listen, they can be reminded that they are never alone.
Step 2 Ask:
This goes hand in hand with step 1. Ask about how they are feeling, how school is going (outside of grades and attendance as well), how their friends are doing. Now depending on your child’s age, they may find this “annoying” or “uncool” but it’s important to show that you care about your child as a person not just as your child.
Step 3 Discuss technology:
This is often the blindspot of many parents. I mean how often is a new app coming out that all the kids are flocking too. (If only there was a resource where parents could learn about digital trends *cough That Exact Resource *cough). It’s true, there will be apps and games and other internet based trends that just hurt our brain trying to understand at first but the key thing is we are making an effort. Not an effort to be cool like our kids probably think, but an effort to empathize and an effort to understand.
Step 4 Educate your kids:
Schoolhouse Rock said it the best, knowledge is power! By engaging with our children and educating them on cyberbullying, we can help foster a generation of wise minded internet users. But where can you go to teach your child about cyberbullying? Luckily here at Cyberwise, we have exactly what you need! Check out our self-paced course on cyberbullying for kids!
By discussing tech, we have now opened the all important door to the talk about how to be safe and responsible with our technology use. Talks such as this help not only the bullied but the bully themself.
To learn more about cyberbullying and view all of our helpful resources check out our website!
Author: Connor Cohen.
Connor joined the Cyber Civics team in 2023 with experience in both social work and marketing. In 2020 he earned his LMSW in Texas where he worked as a therapist in a private practice. He made the switch from direct practice to marketing and worked with therapists to help market the profession and practice. Connor now works for Cyber Civics and Cyberwise. After earning his Bachelors in English, Political Science and Counseling from the University of North Texas, he went on to receive his Masters in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington. Continuing his studies, he earned a certificate in Digital Marketing from the University of Texas in 2022. He resides in Houston, TX with his fiancee and dog Leia. Connor feels that his role at Cyberwise and Cybercivics is the perfect place to make the much needed changes that help promote the mission of increasing digital literacy and online safety.