November 25, 2013
While stories of cyberbullying continue to make headlines, parents remain oblivious to their children’s online behavior. A new study published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication shows that parents underestimate how often their child is either a victim or perpetrator of cyberbullying.
Not surprisingly, they are also unaware of the frequency with which their child is exposed online to sexual imagery and contacts from strangers.
Results of the study are based on survey data collected from 465 parent-child pairs. According to a report on the Medical News Today (MNT) Web Site:
"30% of youths admit to having been cyberbullied; only slightly higher than 10% of their parents reported that they knew. About 15% of the youths in the study admitted to cyberbullying others; under 5% of those parents were aware.
The study also suggested that parents of younger teens—those who believe their child is smarter than others online, or who are not able to monitor their teen’s internet use—are more likely to be unaware that their child has been cyberbullied."
Guidelines for Teaching Online Safety
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following strategies for keeping your children safe online:
The following are tips you can teach your children about online safety:
- NEVER give out personal information unless a parent says it’s OK. This includes your name, address, phone number, age, race, school name or location, or friends’ names.
- NEVER share passwords, even with friends.
- NEVER meet a friend you only know online in person unless a parent says it’s OK. It’s best if a parent goes along and to meet in a public place. (Older teens that may choose not to tell a parent and go alone should at least go with a friend and meet in a public place.)
- NEVER respond to messages that make you feel uncomfortable or hurt your feelings. Ignore these messages, stop all communication, and tell a parent or another adult you trust right away.
The following is what you can teach your children about how they should act online:
- NEVER send mean messages online. NEVER say something online that you wouldn’t say to someone in person. Bullying is wrong whether it’s done in person or online.
- NEVER use the Internet to make someone look bad. For example, never send messages from another person’s e-mail that could get that person into trouble.
- NEVER plagiarize. It’s illegal to copy online information and say that you wrote it.