Cyber bullying and parents
Educating your folks about the issue
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"I’m not suggesting we should all friend our parents or anything"
Cyber bullying: It’s the issue of the moment. It’s all over the web, text, newspapers – everywhere really. While most of us here are well used to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc., it’s easy to forget that not everyone knows what a ‘tweet’ or a ‘status update’ is. In fact, this is the case for quite a lot of our generations’ parents: some might be extremely technology-savvy, some might know the basics and some are still trying to grasp what Google is.
So it can’t be easy for them to try and understand what goes on online. It must be especially frightening for them to hear about all of the bullying and harassment that’s occurring on a platform they don’t really know much about. So what can be done to help the parents, to let them understand and, in turn to help their children?
Firstly, parents need to be informed about social media. Most teenagers basically teach themselves how to use social networking sites. This can be harmful as it means that even from the beginning they don’t know how to use the privacy settings and such. Children are also going online at a very early stage, usually towards the end of primary school.
Therefore both their parents and the children themselves need to know the basics of any website before using it. Parents and children should work together and the parents should be able to inform their children about how to use the sites appropriately. This will also reassure the parents that they know what their child are doing online.
It gets more difficult when teenagers already know how to use sites and are more reluctant to then explain to their parents what they’re doing. For a teenager, letting your parents see what’s on your Facebook or Ask.fm account is akin to them following you around school for the day to see what you do with your friends – it’s an invasion of privacy.
And so it needs to be taught from an earlier stage. Lack of knowledge on social networking is feeding into the generation gap, and this can be a huge worry for parents. As if thinking your child might be being bullied isn’t a huge problem in itself, how on earth can you help when that bullying is now brought into the home through a medium you can’t control in any way?
If there were information evenings or demonstrations giving basic information about the main social networks and how to use them, it would be of huge benefit. There are no boundaries online for most adolescents, simply because their parents don’t know what they do on the Internet. And obviously there is a line between protecting your child/being aware of what sites they’re on and being invasive. However, teenagers should inform their parents what social media is all about.
Give them the basics of what a ‘tweet’ means and why you follow people, tell them what you use Facebook for. I’m not suggesting we should all friend our parents or anything, but it can’t be easy not knowing what your child is doing online and then hearing about the huge problem of cyber bullying. Couple that with then not having a clue if it could be an issue affecting your child. In short, cyber bullying isn’t necessarily just an issue for those of us online. Have a think about helping your parents get to grips with the online world.