Born into a connected world, our children are spending more time on smart devices — vulnerable to cyberbullying.


Bullying is no longer exclusive to the classroom or playground. Harassment is now extended to social-media websites, phone apps, and other online channels. Which makes things even scarier for parents since we have little or no control over what goes on in these channels, or how or where our children are “meeting” other “friends”.

Cyberbullying can include spreading hurtful messages and rumours like in the case of Ryan Halligan, or perhaps even distributing sexually suggestive photographs, as in the case of Hope Witsell.

So, how do you know if your child is being cyberbullied? Here are some tips from the Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report.

· Watch junior’s behaviour Are there any drastic changes in your child’s behaviour? If, for instance, your child starts to avoid social gatherings or exhibiting extreme mood swings, something might be up. She might even start being aggressive with family members, stop eating or sleeping properly, have nightmares, or wet the bed.

· Mood changes Is your child becoming angry, upset or depressed? Signs of depression include difficulty concentrating, fatigue or low energy, or even physical complaints like headaches and stomachaches.

The impersonal nature of online interactions makes things worse…”

· Abrupt changes in friendships Children are often unaware of the impact of their words and actions. The impersonal nature of online interactions makes things worse: How often have your own messages been misconstrued in an e-mail or whatsapp message? So, what more a child’s? One person’s joke could easily become a hurtful experience for another.

· Keeping out of sight while using the device Your child may be jumpy when getting a text, or might be spending too much time online. You may also notice that they’re avoiding certain websites or apps.

Worried that your child might BE a cyberbully? Click on to find out what you can do…




You should also promote positive online behaviour to your kids, to prevent them from becoming cyberbullies themselves.

· Be a role model by leading by example and practicing good online behaviour. Limit the hours that your children can spend online by not being glued to the screen yourself. Instead, share that extra time with your child by learning a new skill together or exploring new places.

· Keep communication lines open and educate your child about issues like “sexting”, cyberbullying and online predators. Help them understand the potential dangers out there. Teach them that joking and teasing may seem harmless, but it can really hurt another person.

· Monitor your child’s online actions. They may not be aware of the impact of the words they use and how they can affect others. Correct them when necessary.

· Explore parental control technologies like those provided by Norton. These technologies can help limit sites that children are able to access, or the type of information they can share.


Photo: iStock


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