As part of Anti-bullying week, here's some tips of how to 'navigate' children's online bullying
As a mum, one of the biggest fears for my children is online bullying, I kind of feel it's out of my control and I don't know where to start to ensure their safety. A child can quite literally be reached 24/7 online; I think that's why I worry so much and it doesn't matter how many rules you put in place, do you think they always adhere to them...probably not if they are anything like my nippers! As part of Anti-bullying week, I have some really useful tips from a child development expert Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari, pulled together by Envirofone on how to 'navigate' children’s online bullying - how to spot it and tips that might help. Also, on Apps and programmes that can be used to monitor/track/control your child's online activity.
How online trolling can affect a child
Short term effects
Online trolling can harm a child's sense of safety, joy, and trust in others. It can cause them to withdraw from social interactions, anxiety and be closed off in their bedroom, affecting their self-esteem, mental health, and in some cases their body confidence. If the child has a strong connection with their family, they can reach out to an adult for appropriate support and guidance. Sleeplessness is also a common short-term effect of online bullying.
Long term effects
Unfortunately, the effect can even be more devastating when children don’t have a strong connection with their family, and the child or teenager has no educational or emotional support systems to enable them to cope with the situation. This can worsen the long-term consequences of being bullied. Such as chronic depression, substance abuse, self-half, and suicidal thoughts/attempts.
How to spot the signs your child is being bullied online
Regression in your child's behaviour
Changes could include but are not limited to anxiety, withdrawal from friends and family, closing themselves off in their bedroom, feeling upset and expressing sadness without a clear reason as to why.
They stop taking part in activities
Many victims of online and offline bullying experience that they no longer participate in activities they used to enjoy. This usually ties in with victims of bullying no longer seeing people that they used to.
Look out for an obsession with being online, checking messages all the time, feeling stressed and anxious if they are not able to do so constantly.
Your child may appear to be isolating themselves within the home, expressing anger, or showing an unexpected decline in their schoolwork. The signs can vary in intensity and quantity from one child to the next, but if there is very little joy in their life, or they are trying to avoid school or their usual social life this can be a clear indicator of an issue such as online trolling.
How to approach your child if you think they are a victim of online trolling
Initiate a safe conversation
Initiate a conversation while you are busy doing another activity, such as walking or driving, so the child or teenager doesn't need to maintain eye contact. Safe conversations mean speaking without any judgment or strong emotions as this can lead them to close up even more.
The message that you want to portray is that your child will not regret sharing their struggle with you. Parents should avoid blaming or shaming, allowing space for the teen or child to talk about what is going on for them and explore together what can be done to resolve the situation.
Get the school involved
Reporting bullying incidents to the child’s school is essential for the bullying to be taken seriously.
There is also a need, between parents and schools, to educate children about online safety.
Show them privacy settings
It is important to educate them about privacy settings on social media, and about not engaging with people they do not know directly and in person.
Ways to monitor your children’s online Activity
From restricting screen time, blocking apps at certain areas and filtering what content kids can see, security apps permit parents to customize the apps to their family. There are many apps you can chose from, some free and some at a subscription cost:
1. Netnanny: Netnanny is one of the longest running monitoring providers and is the #1-Rated Internet Filter.
2. KasperSky: Multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus provider.
3. Circle Home Plus: Circle Home Plus can monitor devices at the router level on your home network or via an app on your child's mobile devices.
4. Questodio: Family Parental Control App makes parenting easier with daily screen time monitoring, app monitoring, including Facebook and YouTube, app blocking, family locator, family mode, porn blocker and more.
5. Bark: Bark monitors texts, email, YouTube, and 30+ apps and social media platforms for signs of issues like cyberbullying, sexual content, online predators, depression, suicidal ideation, threats of violence.
6. Boomerang: Boomerang is a parental control app for Android and iOS that helps parents track their children's web, app, and mobile activity. It's mobile-only.
7. Family Time: Lets you manage screen time and block apps on their phones with just a tap. Kids can reach out to you instantly if they ever get into trouble with instant panic alerts.
8. Google Family Link:You can also monitor and limit screen time, including checking out how much time your child spends on their favourite apps, thanks to weekly or monthly activity reports.
(This research was provided by Envirofone is one of the UK’s first recycling specialists. For over 15 years, Envirofone has given cash to consumers who send in their mobile phones through the company. Through www.envirofone.com customers are able to acquire the latest refurbished tech, by either trading in their existing phone for ‘Envirocash’ which can be spent on the online store or paying cash.)