Children are increasingly interacting with their peers online, using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on the go, via mobile. It’s important that as a parent, you are aware of how your children interact with others online, to prevent them from experiencing or engaging in cyber bullying and keep them safe.
Figures quoted by Igniyte indicate that some children behave irresponsibly online. Roughly a quarter of UK 16 to 18 year olds have posted “rude” or “unkind” content to other people on social media. As these platforms are seen as trusted sources of information by Google, negative posts could damage your child’s image online, ranking prominently in searches for their name.
Fresh data from charity the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) Childline, an advice helpline, suggests that the number of young people being bullied online is rising. Childline revealed that in the past year, it has counselled 4,500 more children than in 2011 to 2012, when the number was 2,400. The service attributed this increase to online trolls causing misery and humiliation to children throughout the UK, with children as young as seven years old being affected.
Commenting on these figures, Childline President Dame Esther Rantzen said: “Bullying can wreck young people’s lives, especially now that the bullies don’t stop at the school gates. Cyber-bullying can follow them home until it becomes a persecution they cannot escape.
“It is imperative that adults, parents and teachers, intervene to protect them, because we have learned over the years from Childline callers that bullying does not stop on its own, left alone it gets worse. Schools must take this problem seriously, and above all children must ask for help.”
The NSPPC released this report to coincide with the start of Anti-Bullying Week. This an annual event co-ordinated by the Anti Bullying Alliance, a group which works with schools, parents and other bodies to tackle child bullying, both online and offline. 2016’s Anti-Bullying Week is being held between 14th and 18th November, with the theme ‘Power for Good,’ showing how people can stop harassment.
Anti-Bullying Week features workshops which offer children, parents and teachers guidance on tackling this problem and enacting positive change in their communities. There is also an Anti-Bullying Week Competition, which is free to enter. This gives children the chance to develop initiatives to end harassment, both offline and online, such as gadgets and short films, with a £300 prize for the winner.
When researching how to prevent your child from experiencing harassment online, Anti-Bullying Week is a good place to start. It provides a range of resources for parents and schools. This includes anti-bullying motivational posters, starting from £7.25, an ‘empowerment’ pack of card with anti-bullying tips at £15 and an instructional DVD, for £7, with prices including postage and packaging.
Igniyte’s Guide to Managing Your Teenager’s Personal Information Online contains practical advice that you can use to prevent your child from being cyber-bullied or harassing others. In this document, you will find tips on managing social media privacy settings, building positive profiles, shielding private information and reporting defamatory content for removal from searches to Google and more.
By adopting these measures, you could help your child build a positive identity online. Not only will this protect their mental well-being, but it could also benefit them professionally in later life. Employers are increasingly researching applicants on social media, with negative content often serving as a red flags, which dissuade them from inviting said applicants to interview. As a parent, make sure you are aware of the potential implications and risks, so you can ensure that your child acts responsibly when interacting with their peers online.