The drive a parent feels to protect their offspring is biological and always understandable, but is often met with resistance and tension between parent and child. Chances are, the youth will not stop rebelling, and parents will never stop protecting their kids. Clearly something has to give and perhaps it is in the way we go about protecting our teens and pre-teens online. Below are some ways to avoid the tension and resentment, and also keep your kids protected.
Set Ground Rules For Privacy Settings
Do not allow your children to have online profiles unless they are going to follow your rules for privacy settings. Most social networks have the option to have a “private” profile, which means the content they post is only publicized to “friends” and “followers”: individuals specifically approved by your child to be in their network. How users can search your child is another discussion: instruct that their name and profile be unable to be searched by people that are not in their network (friends and followers). Make sure your child has all social profiles locked on these settings. (And it’s not a bad idea for you, either.)
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Explain The Significance Of Their Reputation Online
It doesn’t need to be a serious sit-down talk, just take 5 minutes to ensure your child understands that regardless of privacy settings, the things they post on the internet are widespread and permanent. Even content posted and then deleted remains floating in cyber-space. Also, many employers today are beginning to investigate applicants online; looking at their social profiles and making deductions often without the applicant’s knowledge. Although you may not have dealt with this aspect of the application process when seeking your job, it is a growing reality for your children, and things they are posting now will be seen. If they want to be mature and have their own social profile, they must show that they can also be mature enough to maintain it responsibly.
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Recognize When Your Child Is Involved With Cyber-Bullying
When a child is being bullied online, warning signs can be: decline in online activity, avoidance of social situations, isolation, frequent headaches and stomachaches, changes in sleep and eating habits, listlessness, destructive behavior such as running away or self-harm, and a reluctance to go to school. When a child is bullying others, warning signs can be: increased aggressiveness, lack of responsibility and remorse, lack of social dignity, increased competitiveness and value in their reputation, and having friends with bad habits or dangerous interests. If you see any of these warning signs, interject before it is too late. Not sure where to start? Keep reading.
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What To Do If Your Child Is Being Bullied
The first and most important point is to not react to the bully. Your child learns from your examples, and reacting will make them feel even more victimized and teach them that lashing out is the way to manage bullies. Ensure your child understands that the flaw is not with them, and most people believe that bullying is wrong. Give your child a confident and stable perspective by making them understand that the bully’s empowerment (and dis-empowerment) lies within your child. Generally ignore the bully’s comments, but carefully save and archive all of the interactions, so that if the bullying persists, you and your child can report it to school officials or local authorities.
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What To Do If Your Child Is Bullying Others
Children often display negative or destructive behavior when they are feeling negativity. Discuss with your child why they treat their peers so poorly. Your child is learning examples from you, as well. Try to keep your gossip away from their ears, and explain to them that you are an adult and bullying is never okay. If your child’s behavior doesn’t improve, consider a counseling session with the school counselor or a private therapist.
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