Many of you e-mailed me regarding last week’s article on cyber-bullying on what you can do as parents. Start by talking to your kids about the issue and teaching them the rules below, which will help prevent cyber-bullying from happening to them or someone they know. One of the biggest challenges that parents have is that this is also happening on your child iPhone and iPad.. So it’s not just the computer anymore that you have to check.
Here’s what kids need to know:
▪ Never give out personal information online, whether in instant message profiles, chat rooms, blogs or personal websites.
▪ Never tell anyone but your parents your password — not even friends.
▪ If someone sends a mean or threatening message, don’t respond. Save it or print it out and show it to your parents.
▪ Never open e-mails from someone you don’t know or from someone you know is a bully.
▪ Don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want your classmates to see, even in e-mail.
▪ Don’t send messages when you’re angry. Before clicking “send,” ask yourself how you would feel if you received the message.
▪ Help kids who are bullied online by not joining in and showing bullying messages to an adult.
Since most cyber-bullying takes place at home and also on phones, it’s important that parents know about cyber-bullying and that they get involved in preventing it. Just like parents help their kids avoid inappropriate websites, they can protect them from cyber-bullying
Here’s what parents can do:
▪ Keep your home computer in a busy area of your house. Check your child phone or tablet for messages and pictures.
▪ Set up e-mail and chat accounts with your children. Make sure that you know their screen names and passwords and that they don’t include any personal information in their online profiles.
▪ Regularly go over their “buddy list” and Twitter account. Ask who each person is and how your children know him or her.
▪ Discuss cyber-bullying with your children and ask if they have experienced it or seen it happen to someone.
▪ Tell your children that you won’t blame them if they are cyber-bullied. Emphasize that you won’t take away their computer privileges or phone —this is the main reason kids don’t tell adults when they are cyber-bullied.
If you would like brochures on cyber-bullying or Internet Safety, please contact our office or email me. You can also contact: National Crime Prevention Council at: www.ncpc.org or Connect with Kids at: http://websource.connectwithkids.com/welcome-to-websource/. You can also visit www.NetSmartzKids.org, an interactive, educational program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children that we partner with through our Youth Crime Watch program in the schools. Parents you have many excellent resources so use them.
Check those computers, phones and tablets. Be a nosy parent. I know it’s not easy but working with schools police, teachers and administrators can help parents and their children. Most important, open communication with your child.
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.