The Internet is like the Wild West – anyone can roam around with a whole new identity, saying and doing what they want with very little accountability. The time kids spend online has recently tripled and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, said Dr. Michele Borba, and internationally recognized expert on children and bullying. From child identity theft to bullying, there are numerous ways our children’s minds are being plagued.
With the Internet, we have a vast library at the click of a button and the tips of our fingers. A century ago, scholars and philosophers would have sacrificed their firstborn and sold their wives into slavery for a chance like this. Meanwhile our spawn waste hours lost in grumpy cat memes. Is this just the natural progression of an increasingly lazy society, or did we go terribly wrong somewhere? Either way, it’s up to us parents to keep our little angels on the straight-and-narrow when it comes to the World Wide Web. Whether we’re protecting them from cyberbullies or child identity theft, action needs to be taken.
It’s Ten O’Clock, Do You Know Where Your Kids Browse?
According to a survey by Knowledge Networks, only about 41% of parents monitor their teens internet usage, while 49% of teens admittedly don’t know if they’re being checked. There’s also an alarming number of teens who simply clear their browsing history. Although pornography is the obvious fear of most parents, there are many mindless and questionable ways to get lost in cyberspace. Although it’s difficult to draw a line between spying and holding them accountable, it’s important to sit them down and have a talk about the kind of behavior you expect from them online. What is OK in your household, and how do you help your child self-regulate? How do you teach them what information is ok to share online?
Sticks And Stones And Mean Little Drones: Cyberbullies
With the proliferation of computers and smartphones a generation unaccustomed to the digital lifestyle is having to teach their kids the rules of the road. Something as simple as leaving a Facebook page open can lead to someone hacking your child’s online persona and causing big problems for them. And cyberbullying continues to be a growing problem. Becoming an anonymous bully is almost as easy as learning to tie your shoes. Dosomething.org reports that 43% of kids have been cyberbullied, and one in four has been bullied on more than one occasion. This is a far cry from the days of yore, when only one or two kids got picked on and teachers and parents could easily identify the perpetrator.
Mobile Makes It Harder
Cell phones are the most common medium for cyberbullying, as they’re easily accessible and easy to hide. Only one in ten victims will even inform an authority figure when this is happening to them, making the damage even more unmeasurable for those in charge. Cyberbullying is very difficult for parents to monitor as a result. There’s a good chance that they’ve seen or taken part in some type of online gossip campaign. It’s very important that parents take off their blinders, and whether or not they think their child is involved in being bullied or bullying, sitting down to have a talk and explain how wrong it is is essential.
[About the author: From New York, Moira Hammad is a freelance writer who is a stay-at-home mom and a devoted wife. She specializes in DIY (do it yourself) and is working on a book for DIY single moms.]