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5 Easy Techniques That Prevent Cyber Bullying!

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Cyber bullying is a phenomenon that we are all still getting to grips with in terms of how to identify and manage it. In many respects, cyber bullying is much more psychologically damaging and physically taxing than traditional bullying because traditional bullying is limited to the playground or classroom. With cyber bullying, the child doesn’t feel safe anywhere due to the ever-connected nature of mobile devices. Studies have found that cyberbullying is more strongly related to suicidal thoughts in children and adolescents than traditional bullying, according to a new analysis published in JAMA Pediatrics . There are a number of elements which make it particularly distressing;

  • Not only does the aggressor no longer need to be physically larger than the victim but also the web provides a level of anonymity for the bully that normal schoolyard bullying doesn’t.
  • The impacts of the bullying are more far reaching than the playground – they are on the internet for all to see, share and look-up at a later date. Once something is posted on the internet it can be copied, pasted and sent on at will by strangers. Photos and posts can go viral meaning that no longer was this a one-off incident but one that is re-lived by the victim over and over again every time it is shared or re-posted.
  • Bullies have an easy to access platform with a permanently captured audience.
  • Online bullying can escalate quickly and become a team game with numerous aggressors trying to outdo each other, competing to be the most abusive - a phenomenon known as ‘cybermobs’.
  • Cyber bullying is so rife now, there are actually a couple of different terms for cyber bullies. The three broad categories of bully are explained below;
    • Cyber Bully: your standard cyber bully. Says hateful things for the sake of getting a reaction. They usually know the victim directly (goes to school with them, for example) and focus their efforts in on one or two individuals only.
    • Trolls: they post inflammatory messages with the sole intention to evoke a negative response. They often do so in a scattergun approach with whomever they choose. As such, they often don’t know the victims personally.
    • Griefers: these are similar to trolls but specific to the gaming world. Griefers will often target new players to a game, taunting, cheating against them and purposely blocking their progression. Griefers have even attacked the victim’s online persona’s or characters, in some cases even raping them to humiliate the user that the character is owned by. Because online characters are tied so closely to kids real-world identities nowadays, the effects of such actions can be more traumatic than you might think.

What can parents do to prevent cyber bullying?

1. Setup privacy controls.

Ensure that all social media accounts and game consoles have appropriate privacy settings setup. These help ensure that only those people who you want to contact your child are able to. Also, explain how these controls work with your children. There are useful functionalities such as ‘Blocking’ and ‘Muting’ that they can use themselves to control who contacts them and those who can’t. Remember that when a contact is blocked, you’ll want to block them across all social media sites, messaging apps and online games. Where both parents and the child alike are using these kinds of contact control functionalities, it can often help nip cases of cyber bullying in the bud!

2. Ensure You’re Using Secure Passphrases.

You’ve definitely heard of passwords, but I’ll bet my bottom dollar you haven’t as yet heard of passphrases! These are essentially a secure type of password. It is a specific way of constructing a password to ensure that nobody can hack or guess them! I explain more here on exactly how to create them. Cyber bullies often try and get access to our online accounts so they can send out embarrassing content and posts to our social groups, masquerading as ourselves. To prevent your kids having your accounts hijacked by others, ensure your kids follow the passphrase guidance here.

3. Teach them how to react.

It can be easy to retaliate to posts online made against us but they need to rise above it. Ensure they know not to respond to harmful messages as this is what the cyber bullies feed off. No response is the best response.

4. Increase Your Involvement.

Open the dialogue with your kids. Ask them what they think of certain sites, how they use social media, who contacts them and if there is anything that upsets or worries them about using those sites. If you suspect one of your children is suffering from cyber bullying, you may want to consider using parental control software such as Qustodio, as this can help provide additional oversight (without invading their privacy) on what people are saying to them online.

5. Learn What Cyber Bullying Symptoms Look Like.

If parents know what to look out for, they can often identify cases of cyber bullying when it’s still in its infancy, before it becomes serious. Checkout the common symptoms below to ensure you are aware of what to look out for;

  • The child’s device habits change all of a sudden. They may either abruptly stop using their mobile phone, laptop or computer for no apparent reason or, they may suddenly start obsessing over checking them.
  • They may withdraw themselves to their room and never want to use their devices in a place where they can be seen.
  • Your child deletes a number of their social media profiles.
  • They start blocking a high number of people from contacting them.
  • The child seems anxious when interacting with others online (e.g. instant messaging, texting or emailing).
  • Those are a few quick steps you can take to prevent cyber bullying. The good news is that there are even more techniques at your disposal for managing cases of cyber bullying should it materialise for one of your children.

If you start seeing a few of the above mentioned symptoms, you can visit the SOS Centre section of SimpleCyberLife.com here for techniques on how to respond and manage cyber bullying.

 

Jonny

Founder of www.SimpleCyberLife.com. Cyber security expert, public speaker and entrepreneur.

www.jonnypelter.com

jonny@simplecyberlife.com

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