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How to Protect Yourself and Your Children from Cyberbullying

Teasing. Bullying. Suicide… These are all things that can happen to young students. But why and how? Before the days of Internet and technology, they often stemmed from having problems in the home or with classmates at school. Unfortunately, the Internet is becoming the newest way to bring down the self-esteem of others. And what’s even more unjust, bullies can now be completely anonymous.

Many online social networking tools now allow for users to post or send information anonymously. This has opened the door for a new classification of human behavior: the passive-aggressive bully also referred to as the cyber bully.

It’s so much easier to say what’s really on your mind, and even exaggerate it, when you are anonymous. This concept isn’t new. Shakespeare himself wrote many plays in which one or more of the characters were in disguise. Rosalind from As You Like It, is one great example. In disguise, she could more easily express her emotions and opinions without fear of punishment or ridicule. But unlike Rosalind, who benefited from being able to speak her mind anonymously, people in our day have taken unpleasant advantage of this tool. More and more often Internet users, teenagers particularly, have to deal with cyberbullying.

Luckily, lawmakers are becoming more and more aware of the implications that cyberbullying can have on Internet users. The National Conference of State Legislatures has compiled a list of state laws that handle cyberbullying issues. All 50 states are included on the list. And in most cases, states allow school districts themselves to enforce policies against cyberbullying among their students.

As a parent, what can you do to help your child avoid or deal with cyberbulling?

    First and foremost, build a strong relationship with your children. A healthy home environment offers a place of refuge and protection for your child. So no matter what kind of problem they face, they look to their home and family as a way to escape. In a safe environment such as this, parents will become more aware of problems in their children’s lives and be able to help them counter the damage done by bullying.

    Second, show your kids the proper way to treat others even when using the Internet. Monkey see, monkey do. If you want your children to show respect and be kind to others on the Internet, then you too must do the same.

    These days, both parents and children have social networking accounts. Which means your children can see what you’re up to just as much as you can see them. One obvious way to be respectful on the Internet is to use proper wording and grammar when talking to others. Being overly casual can often lead to informal criticisms later. It is much harder to be cruel to someone when you are speaking and writing formerly. Teach your children these good habits and do them yourself.

    Third, be smart about what information you and your children post online. Don’t publicly post any personal information, such as phone number, address, email, etc. This information can leave you open to contact by people whom you may wish to avoid. Also, be cautious when posting pictures or videos. These may later be fuel for bullying or other inappropriate behavior.

It is impossible to avoid every bad influence in the world, but there are most definitely measures that can be taken to minimize the damage they cause. Be wise about using the Internet and all of the tools it offers, especially when it comes to social networking. Always treat others with respect, and show your children how to do so. And finally, but most importantly, have a strong relationship with your children. This is the surest means of keeping the influence of bullying from damaging their self-esteem and possibly leading to drastic behavior.

About the Author
Natalie Clive is a writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if an online education is right for them and helps them search for online degrees that can help them reach their goals.

We would like to thank our guest writers on the Online Security Authority Blog! We feel it’s a honor and pleasure, to have others participate and contribute to the great content, advice and opinions on and in this Online World, we all live in… help us, help them, by supporting and visiting their sites!

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