Cyberbullying happens when kids bully each other through electronic technology. Find out why cyberbullying is different from traditional bullying, what you can do to prevent it, and how you can report it when it happens.
Visit the federal government’s cyberbullying webpage for more information.
Social Networking Site: Online Friendships’ Can Mean Offline Peril
Social networking sites are websites that encourage people to post profiles of themselves – complete with pictures, interests, and even journals – so they can meet like-minded friends. Most also offer chat rooms. Most sites are free; some restrict membership by age.
These sites can be appealing to child sexual predators, too: all that easy and immediate access to information on potential victims. Even worse, kids want to look cool, so they sometimes post suggestive photos of themselves on the sites.
Social networking websites often ask users to post a profile with their age, gender, hobbies and interests. While these profiles help kids connect and share common interests, individuals who want to victimize kids can use those online profiles to search for potential victims. Kids sometimes compete to see who has the greatest number of contacts and will add new people to their lists even if they do not know them in real life.
Children often don’t realize that they cannot “take back” the online text and images that they post. They may not know that individuals with access to this information can save and forward these posting to an unlimited number of users. Kids also may not realize the potential ramifications of their online activities. They can face consequences for posting harmful, explicit, dangerous, or demeaning information online, including being humiliated in front of their families and peers, suspended from school, charged criminally, and denied employment or entry into schools.
What can you do to keep your children safe, especially if they are visiting networking sites?
Most importantly, be aware and involved:
- Monitor your children’s use of the Internet; keep your Internet computer in an open common room of the common room house.
- Tell your kids why it is so important not to disclose personal information online.
- Check your kids’ profiles and what they post online.
- Read and follow the safety tips provided on the sites.
- Report inappropriate activity to the website or law enforcement immediately.
- Explain to your kids that once images are posted online they lose control of them and can never get them back.
- Only allow your kids to post photos or any type of personally identifying information on websites with your knowledge and consent.
- Instruct your kids to use privacy settings to restrict access to profiles so only the individuals on their contact lists are able to view their profiles.
- Remind kids to only add people they know in real life to their contact lists.
- Encourage kids to choose appropriate screen names or nicknames.
- Talk to your kids about creating strong passwords.
- Visit social networking websites with your kids, and exchange ideas about acceptable versus potential risky websites.
- Ask your kids about the people they are communicating with online.
- Make it a rule with your kids that they can never give out personal information or meet anyone in person without your prior knowledge and consent. If you agree to a meeting between your child and someone they meet online, talk to the parents/guardians of the other individual first and accompany your kids to the meeting in a public place.
- Encourage your kids to consider whether a message is harmful, dangerous, hurtful, or rude before posting or sending it online, and teach your kids not to respond to any rude or harassing remarks or messages that make them feel scared, uncomfortable or confused and to show you the messages instead.
- Educate yourself on the websites, software and apps that your child uses.
- Don’t forget cell phones! They often have almost all the functionality of a computer.
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