With Feb. 24 being Pink Shirt Day to take a stand against bullying, Kelly Starling, Crime Watch’s partner at AT&T, provided this information: Parents please be aware of what your children are doing with their phones. You need to be educated if you are going to help your child.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one in three students say they have been bullied at school. While face-to-face bullying is still common, cyber-bullying — via email, text messages, instant messaging, chat rooms, social media sites, videos and pictures — is on the rise, according to BullyStatistics.org.
Bully Stop is a free Google Play app that helps protect your children from unwanted calls, texts and picture messages. The app gives your children the ability to block calls and messages from people they don’t want to hear from. Bully Stop uses a Block List to block unwanted callers and texters. The app maintains a password-protected call log of all attempted contact with your child so you can approach the relevant people, parents, teachers or police and show proof of the bullying communication.
Take advantage of parental controls. Ask your provider about parental controls available to you. For example, AT&T has Smart Limits, which allows parents to block unwanted calls and texts from up to 30 numbers and restrict texting and data usage during specified times of the day.
Be aware of what your kids are doing online. Talk with your kids about cyberbullying and other online issues regularly.
▪ Know the sites your kids visit and their online activities. Ask where they’re going, what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with.
▪ Tell your kids that as a responsible parent, you may review their online communications if you think there is a reason for concern.
▪ Ask for their passwords, but tell them you’ll only use them in case of emergency.
▪ Ask to “friend” or “follow” your kids on social media sites or ask another trusted adult to do so.
▪ Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyberbullied. Let them know you will not take away their device if they confide in you about a problem.
▪ Establish rules about appropriate use of computers, cellphones and other technology.
▪ Be clear about what sites they can visit and what they are permitted to do when they’re online. Show them how to be safe online.
▪ Help them be smart about what they post or say. Tell them not to share anything that could hurt or embarrass themselves or others.
▪ Encourage kids to think about who they want to see the information and pictures they post online. Think about how people who aren’t friends could use the information.
▪ Remind them to keep their passwords safe and not to share them with friends because sharing that information could compromise their control over their online identities and activities.
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.