Tips for Involving Parents in Cyberbullying Prevention
Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that takes place using technology. Whether it’s a mean comment or malicious text message, children are finding themselves being cyberbullied more than ever before. The greatest advocates and protectors of children against cyberbullying are parents. Parental involvement is crucial to helping children know when they are being bullied as well as putting an end to it. Keep on reading to discover how to talk to parents about cyberbullying prevention.
How To Get Parents Involved In Cyberbullying Prevention
Tip #1: Inform parents
Students are receiving cell phones at an early age, even in elementary school. Every child gets excited about being able to text their friends and start using Instagram and Twitter. What parents may not realize is that they are opening up their child to the potential for cyberbullying. As a school, it would be a good idea to have information available to parents, or even a meeting, to educate them on what cyberbullying is, how they can help prevent it, and what to do if their child is being bullied.
Tip #2: Encourage parents to monitor their student’s phone
This is the most common way for cyberbullying to take place. By monitoring their student’s text messages and social media, parents can help teach their student how to appropriately use and manage social media and texting. Ideas for monitoring cell phone usage are keeping phones in a common area at night, following their student on social media, and physically checking messages.
Tip #3: Teach parents to use social media
The generation of children growing up today have loads of access to social media, like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and more. Parents may not know how to use certain social media platforms, so this would be a great opportunity to teach parents how to use these outlets so they can stay aware of their student’s social media habits and even demonstrate how to appropriately use social media. Your Instructional Technologist could make tutorials to post on your school website, or even better, you could have a night where parents and students come to the school for a demonstration. Students can show their parents how to use their favorite social media platform. This gathering may encourage bonding between parents and their students, as well as serve as an opportunity to build a community against cyberbullying.
Tip #4: Teach parents signs of cyberbullying
Parents know their children and how they typically behave. When a child behaves differently, it can be a sign that the child is being cyberbullied. Some more common signs of bullying may include the following list. These are signs to look for or notice if a student is being bullied at all, not just cyberbullied.
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of interest in a previously enjoyed activity
- Trying to avoid school
- Withdrawn-A student might appear disengaged in school or while the family is socializing. They probably will want to spend time alone, and their body language will be very closed off, like crossing their arms, staring into space, and frowning.
These are signs to look for in any student being bullied. If you are specifically looking for cyberbullying or notice the student exhibiting any of the following signs, it could be a sign that they are being cyberbullied. These are signs that might particularly relate to their phones or social media.
- Hiding their phone from parents
- Stop posting on social media
- Refusing to let parents see text messages or even deleting them
- Change of use in phone or computer
Of course, there are also ways to determine if your child is doing the cyberbullying, and they look eerily similar to the previously mentioned signs. While no one wants to believe their student is a bully, it does happen. Helping a parent realize and work through how to help their student is very sensitive, but important. Remember that parents may be unaware and even deny that their student is a bully. Just be patient and kind.
- Hiding their phone or quickly hiding it when a parent of adult walks into the room
- Multiple social media accounts for one source of media, like Instagram, etc.
- Aggressive or upset if a parent asks to look at phone
- Won’t allow a parent to follow their social media accounts
- Mood changes
- Making sarcastic or nasty remarks about other people when they think a parent can’t hear them
Tip #5: Encourage open communication between parents and their children
If parents can build a trusting relationship with their children, the children will feel more comfortable sharing experiences when they feel like might be getting cyberbullied. Building trust starts at a young age when children are most impressionable. Encourage parents to talk openly about the student’s life and what happens at school. By opening the lines of communication, a student will be more likely to talk to his or her parents when bullying occurs. Parents should also talk openly about how to use social media and phones and even model proper uses for their children to see. Parents are the ultimate educators when it comes to appropriate uses of phones and technology.
Steps to Take as an Educator or School Administrator
Do something. If you suspect or hear that a child is being cyberbullied, do something. Countless numbers of students feel alone or afraid when it comes to cyberbullying. It can cause depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts, so school administration and teachers should address any accusations of bullying immediately and thoroughly.
- Know your state and school anti-bullying policies to know the protocol.
- Talk to the students, both the bully and bullied.
- Find factual evidence to back up claims of cyberbullying
- Use your technology department to help discover if cyberbullying is occurring on school-issued technology, like a tablet or laptop
Parents are the greatest advocate against cyberbullying. Schools and parents should work together to address the issues within schools and communities. By acting quickly, cyberbullying can be drastically reduced, and hopefully even stopped within schools. So educate yourselves as a school staff and equip your parents with the tools and cyberbullying tips to help students navigate the world of social media and texting.
Do you have any other cyberbullying prevention tips? Share with us on Twitter @Schoology!