The internet and social media are one way that children experience bullying. Cyberbullying, simply put, is bullying that happens online through social, gaming or instant messaging platforms.
To help you support your child on this issue, we’ve put together lots of advice to prepare them for what they might encounter online and practical ways to tackle cyberbullying should it happen.
The best way to protect your child from cyberbullying is to take an active interest right from the start. They need your love and protection online as much as they do in the real world. What your child is exposed to will depend on how they’re using the internet. For example, social network users are more likely to experience cyberbullying, see sexual or violent images, or have contact with strangers.
Begin by watching this video where the Duke of Cambridge meets with campaigners sharing their experiences to help put an end to cyberbullying.
See these simple tips on how to talk to children aged between 6-10 about cyberbullying and equip them with the tools to deal with it.
Before you start the conversation
- Think about when and where best to talk to them – in the car or a neutral place where they feel safe
- Jot down what you want to say to focus your mind, and make the conversation relevant to them
- Be open and encouraging to make them feel supported
- Have a few bite sized conversations to give them time to process
What you need to know
- Think carefully about allowing your child on social media as the minimum age on most networks is 13 years old
- Cyberbullying can take place 24/7 and happens repeatedly on a range of apps, games and devices
- Younger children can confuse any nasty comment or opinion as ‘bullying’ so their understanding of bullying can be different to that of adults
- Bullying is a learnt behaviour – so it’s important to set a good example and regularly reinforce being a good digital citizen
Tips to prevent cyberbullying
- Be engaged – Talk to your child about what they like to do online and what they know about how to stay safe – see tips from Childnet
- Be kind online – Being positive and respectful online is key to using the internet safely. Share ‘Top Internet Manners’ with them
- Know how to report – Make sure your child knows how to report cyberbullying if it happens to them or someone else
Tips to deal with cyberbullying
- Make sure your child knows they can share anything that upsets them online with a trusted adult. Watch Childnet’s Captain Kara video ‘T for Tell’
- Never retaliate – remind your child that saying mean things back to a bully makes the situation worse
- Save the evidence – encourage your child to save messages, photos and screenshots of online bullying as proof to show to a trusted adult
- Explore the games and apps your child uses together and find report and block buttons to understand what they do
Actions you can take to support them
- Listen and help – Allow your child to explain what has happened and talk about it before making judgements
- Don’t deny access – It can be tempting to ban devices or using the internet to prevent the bullying but this isn’t a solution and can make a child feel worse
- Know how to get help – Your child’s school can help you deal with cyberbullying and provide support and advice. If you feel the law has been broken then online bullying can also be reported to your local police force
Finally watch this video which sums it all up