WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF THE INTERNET FOR KIDS?
Part 1: Cyberbullying
The internet is an incredible resource that has revolutionized the way we live our lives. It has created a whole new world, providing access to more knowledge and information at our fingertips than ever before, and connecting people from all corners of the globe. However, with the ability to connect with anyone and access so much information, the internet also brings many risks, particularly for children who may be more vulnerable to online dangers. In this blog series, we'll explore some of the dangers of the internet for kids, and offer you tips on how to keep your child safe online from those dangers.
In the first blog in our series, let's talk about cyberbullying.
What Is Cyberbullying?
One of the most significant internet dangers these days for kids and teens is cyberbullying. Cyberbullying occurs when a child is subjected to harassment, teasing, or coercion online. As social media platforms and other online communication becomes more and more popular, it has become easier than ever for individuals to engage in bullying behavior online. Cyberbullying can occur in many different forms, including:
- Sending threatening or abusive messages
- Spreading rumors or lies
- Creating fake profiles to impersonate someone else
Where Does Cyberbullying Occur Most?
Cyberbullying often takes place via social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Cyberbullying can also occur through text messaging or messaging apps on cell phones and tablets, online message boards and forums, gaming platforms, or even via email.
What Makes Cyberbullying Different From Other Bullying?
One of the reasons why cyberbullying is so harmful is that it doesn’t just happen during the school day. Cyberbullying can occur anywhere and at any time - morning, day, or night; at home, school, or on vacation. This can result in children and teens who are experiencing cyberbullying left feeling they have no safe space in their lives. They may find the psychological distress bullying causes permeating every aspect of their life.
Another major difference with cyberbullying compared to other forms of bullying is its often secretive nature. If you don’t have access to your child’s online devices or social media accounts, it can be impossible to detect if your child is experiencing cyberbullying until it’s too late. Many children or teens may feel shame about being bullied which can lead them to try to deal with it on their own and keep the issue secret from their parents. As the child continues to experience cyberbullying without any support, parental advice, or consequence for the perpetrator, it continues to chip away at their self-esteem.
Cyberbullying is often more detrimental compared to other forms of bullying as it can embolden bullies to act with more aggression and cruelty. Since cyberbullying occurs online instead of in person, bullies can easily conceal their identity, hiding behind fake profiles and anonymous usernames. Additionally, cyberbullying most often occurs without the perpetrator seeing the victim's reaction. The anonymity of the bully’s identity plus the lack of social cues involved in the interaction make it easier for the perpetrator to be cruel without feeling the consequences of their actions.
What are the consequences of cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying can have severe and long-lasting effects, not only for the victim but also for the bully and the community as a whole.
Emotional and Psychological Effects
One of the most significant consequences of cyberbullying is the emotional and psychological effects it can have on the victim. Cyberbullying can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Victims may also experience a loss of confidence and may become withdrawn from social situations. In severe cases, cyberbullying can even lead to suicidal ideation. These effects can last long after the bullying has stopped.
Cyberbullying can also impact academic performance. Victims may struggle to focus on their studies, leading to a decline in grades and overall academic performance. In some cases, victims may even drop out of school or switch to a different educational program to escape the bullying.
Cyberbullying can also have a significant impact on relationships. Victims may find it difficult to trust others or form new relationships, and their existing relationships may suffer as a result of the bullying. Additionally, cyberbullying can cause family members and friends of the victim to feel helpless and powerless.
It is important to note that cyberbullies can also suffer consequences as a result of their behavior. Cyberbullies may face legal consequences, including criminal charges, fines, and community service. Additionally, cyberbullies may experience social isolation, as their behavior can lead to negative perceptions from peers, family, and the community.
How to Prevent Cyberbulling
As parents, we have a crucial role to play in preventing cyberbullying. Here are some tips on how you can help protect your children from cyberbullying:
Talk to your children about cyberbullying. Educate them on what it is, how to identify it, and what to do if they or someone they know is being bullied.
Monitor your child's online activity. Keep an eye on their social media accounts and any other online communication channels they use. Make sure you have access to their passwords and that their profiles are set to private.
Set rules for screen time. Limit the amount of time your child spends on their devices, and make sure they take regular breaks.
Encourage open communication. Let your child know that they can come to you if they experience any bullying, online or offline. Make sure they feel comfortable talking to you about anything that is bothering them.
Use technology to your advantage. There are many tools available that can help prevent cyberbullying, such as parental control apps and web browser filters. At Soymomo, we are dedicated to designing the safest technology for kids and that includes technology that fights cyberbullying. That’s why we’ve developed Dug, our custom AI software that detects and blocks harmful messages. Beyond blocking harmful messages, our smartwatches and tablets will also send an alert notification to parents, allowing them to intervene and have a conversation with their kids about the bullying or inappropriate content as soon as it occurs. Our tablets also allow parents to monitor their child's online activity and set limits on screen time, so you never have to worry about what your kids may be being exposed to online.
Cyberbullying is a serious problem and requires a proactive approach from parents. Talking to our children, monitoring their online activity, setting rules for screen time, and using technology to our advantage can help prevent cyberbullying and keep our children safe from the dangers of the internet.
Learn more about how SoyMomo encourages children and parents to stay connected while protecting them from dangers like cyberbullying.
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