Is Your Child Being Cyberbullied?

While the Internet has allowed us greater delivery of information, improved communication networks between people, and provided faster and smoother access to products and services, it has also created another way in which our personal security can be put in jeopardy. Our personal information is available in electronic form to an unknown range of people and often lack of awareness and poor security management can result in your personal details being accessed by people you don’t know.

A Closer Look at Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying can involve malicious personal attacks such as spreading lies and rumors about others, forwarding private text messages or emails, posting pictures of victims without their knowledge or consent, or pretending to be other people in order to gain information.

In October, President Obama launched National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) – a series of events and initiatives that are designed to increase education and awareness of cybersecurity within businesses and the average private home. Americans are encouraged to participate in the fight against cybercrime by following simple steps that will keep their information safe from potential harm. NCSAM suggests Internet users set strong passwords, install updates on all computers, limit the amount of personal information posted online and be cautious about what websites are accessed. Personal information is even more sensitive today. With the dependency on social media, theft protection services, like Lifelock.com, are more imperative than ever before.

Daily Use

Information security is not the only issue that has risen in the past few years with the rise in the use of the Internet – cyberbullying has become a large problem for many young people both within the United States and across the globe. A 2011 Pew Research Center study reported that 93 percent of American teenagers (12-17 years) were using the Internet. At the same time, the increased social networks that have developed through sites such as Facebook and Twitter have meant that young people have more opportunity to be bullied, teased or embarrassed by others. Delaware Online says that more than 140,000 students stay away from school daily due to cyberbullying.

What Can Be Done to Prevent Cyberbullying?

Teenagers can refuse to participate in the bullying of other young people, encourage their friends to stop, or report cyberbullying to a trusted adult. Young people who are being bullied can report the problem to teachers, parents or trusted adults. Schools should discuss the issues associated with cyberbullying, be proactive in explaining the dangers of social media and discourage all students from participating in cyberbullying.

Parents should have open conversations with their teenagers about the responsible use of the Internet and the impact their words can have on others in social media situations. Parents should also be aware of what sites their teenagers are using, and if they notice any emotional changes in their children, speak to them about issues they may be experiencing.

While the size and accessibility of the Internet and social media make it very difficult for parents to control what websites their children are using, it is important for parents and schools to educate young people on the best ways to use the web, when it is safe to provide personal information, and how to protect themselves against cyberbullying.

Published 11/28/2012 by Kimberly Howard


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