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Mobiles and Bullying - more advice for parents

Smartphones and mobile devices are defining how young people communicate, the social networks they interact with, how they access information and learn at school as mobile technology becomes part of the curriculum.   These devices help parents stay in touch with their children and assist families to balance their busy lives.

Like all technology, mobile telecommunications can be misused. While the positive aspects of mobile phones far outweigh any negatives, parents in assisting their children to be smart, safe and responsible users of mobile technology.
 
Although there can be a “digital divide” between parents and their children, it is important for parents to realise that the normal rules of parenting still apply.
 

What is cyberbullying?

Research shows that 1 in 5 Australian children aged 12-17 have been the target of cyberbullying in the last year (according to the eSafety Commissioner's website).

Bullying, unfortunately, has been with us a long time. What makes cyberbulling different is that the speed and the 24/7digital world means children can be bullied anywhere at any time.

Cyberbullies misuse and abuse mobile phones to intimidate, harass, humiliate and frighten victims. Cyberbullying can take a number of forms:

These activities can leave young people experiencing:

How you can help?

Be proactive:

There may be a technology gap between what your child knows about mobiles and how much you know. However, remember you don’t have to be a tech expert to help your child remain safe from cyberbullying.

You can offer life skills, maturity and experience to your child when they need help. Right and wrong are the same in the online world as in the real world and it takes a combination of social and technical skills to tackle cyberbullying. You can help.

Take responsibility by setting rules and developing children’s cyber-safety skills. Help children have a positive experience by setting rules for the sorts of materials children can share online, about the content they can access and the social network sites they are allowed to join.

Try and understand the sites and technology your children use and know who they are talking to. The eSafety website has up to date information about popular games, apps and social media platforms used by kids e.g. Kik, Instagram. Ask them to show you how to use the apps and platforms they are using - even if it means opening your own Instagram account just so you can be connected to their online world. Be an engaged parent means engaging with your child on social media or via messaging apps.

Communication is the key:

If your child tells you they have been cyberbullied or you suspect something is wrong because of signs of stress, you should offer them emotional and practical advice.

It is crucial to communicate with your child and encourage them to discuss the incident with you. Cyberbullying is about relationships not technology. It’s important to stay calm to deal rationally and effectively with the problem and reassure them they have done the right thing in telling you. It could make matters worse if you threaten to take away their mobile phone because of their attachment to it and its importance in their lives. Such a threat could prevent them telling you about bullying or other problems - and there are other less drastic solutions you can implement together. 

Children who have been cyberbullied often feel embarrassed, humiliated, fear their plight will be trivialised and they will be made to feel guilty by adults. You need to stress it’s not their fault.

You need to work with your child to develop strategies to deal with cyberbullying.

1.       Your child needs to protect themselves

 2.       What to do if they receive unwanted messages or calls

 3.       They are not alone. Get help

The eSafety Commissioner's website has more tips about cyberbullying - including what you can do about it and how to report bullying or offensive online content. 

Return to previous page - top tips for parents.

Read tips on mobiles and bullying for kids.

 

Some other useful links:

 

 

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