No parent wants to hear that their child is being teased or bullied by one of their peers at school. While you can’t be in the classroom or in the schoolyard at all times to protect them from the hurtful words and actions of their classmates, that isn’t the case with the internet. The bullies and harassers who taunt people over the internet can cause just as much emotional – and potentially physical harm – as the mean people your kid encounters in day-to-day life. In fact, the worst cyberbullying can result in financial ruin and even ID theft.
Here are a few tips for making sure your child doesn’t have their lives overtaken by cyberbullies when they are enjoying the internet:
- Place strict limits on where your children can post personal information about themselves online. Some information should never be shared online – like Social Security numbers, phone numbers and addresses – but even details about your child’s interests, hobbies or place of work could leave them open to internet harassment. The fewer places where these details are evident the less of a chance they stand of actually having to endure this kind of harassment. Should bullying or even ID theft occur, this will give you an edge in narrowing down the search for the culprit.
- Should harassment be taking place, don’t respond with hostility or threats, as this will likely only escalate the situation. Bullies thrive on the reaction of victims, so don’t go about provoking further bullying, but look into alternatives like changing email addresses or, if it seems as though you may a situation where you need to protect your identity, contact authorities.
Be sure you are documenting all instances of the harassment so that if you do need to contact authorities or need to untangle yourself from a web of ID theft, you’ll have more tools and evidence at your disposal.