There are many benefits to using the internet, smartphones and social media. From connecting to friends or family members to learning about new things, the internet can offer a lot of fun, exciting things. But today, the smartphone is often considered “the new white van” and can pose many dangers if not used appropriately and with safe guidelines in place.
For example, 40% of children in grades 4-8 have reported they’ve connected or chatted online with a stranger. Even scarier, more than half of minors who became victims of sex trafficking met their traffickers through a website or mobile app.
What can you do to keep your children safe from online bullying and online predators?
- Know what platforms your children are using.
- Set boundaries and safety rules.
- Promote an open environment for communication so your children can share their fears, concerns or encounters.
- Watch for signs that may indicate online bullying or harassment, or the mental health impacts of spending too much time online.
What are some signs your child is experience online bullying or harassment?
Cyberbullying can be difficult to spot, especially if your child is using the internet, social media or a smartphone without supervision. But while it might be a challenge to pick up on the warning signs, it’s common: 59% of teens say they have been bullied or harassed online.
Encouraging an open environment that allows for discussion and communication is key. Ask your children questions, know who their friends are and be honest with them about online dangers.
Here are a few tips to spot possible cyberbullying/harassment:
- High emotions following use of a device
- Wanting to isolate/avoid social events or school
- Losing interest in hobbies
- Sudden change in screen time
It’s more common than ever for a child to encounter bullying or harassment online in today’s world. Teachers report that cyberbullying is their top safety concern in classrooms. In this digital landscape, children are constantly bombarded with content vying for their attention.
Together, we can create a safe digital environment for our children.