Saturday, June 2, 2012

Driving in the Cyber Lanes - Lesson 5 Protection Against Cyber Bullying

Lesson Five - Establish a "net neighborhood".

When our children are little and they ask to go out and play, what do we as parents or guardians usually say?  Where are you going?  With whom are you going to play? As they grow and mature, we continue responsible parenting by wanting to know who their friends are and we want to be aware of the places they are going along with what they are doing. We do this so that we can protect them against possible danger and harm.  

This same thinking must be implemented as our children spend time in their net neighborhood! And yet, many parents or guardians do not have a clue about where or with whom their children are spending time in the cyber world.  This is extremely dangerous and puts them at high risk of cyber harm.

There are several important steps that parents and guardians can implement to protect their children from cyber bullying by establishing a "net neighborhood".

1. Parents and guardians must get to know the  net neighborhood. Educate yourself.  Sit down and find out who and what you are dealing with. If you are struggling with the cyber world, have your children teach you!

2. As young children begin to venture out, supervise them and explore with them. Where are they going?  With whom are they spending time? Teach them what is safe territory and what is not. Talk about warning signs or red flags.  Is someone asking for personal information?  Does a stranger befriend them?  Is someone being mean, or unkind,or worse? 

3.  Get to know your children's web buddies, text friends, etc. Who are they? What age?  From where does your child know this buddy? Is this person really a friend?

4. Parents and guardians, it is vital that you understand that this "net neighborhood" is a place where children spend hours and hours of time.  How long or how much time each day do you want your child in this neighborhood?  Set limits and be consistent!

5. On a frequent basis, sit down with your children and visit their net neighborhood with them.  Talk about the people and the places they are visiting.  Discuss the kind of behavior that is occurring - positive or negative. Make changes and adjustments as appropriate.  Always refer back to the Family Internet Use Agreement.

This may sound strange, but our children (as do we) have a relationship with the web! Just as we would want to know about their our child's first boyfriend or girlfriend, we must take that same approach with the net. They spend time there, they behave in certain ways, and they become involved in activities that they may not be ready to handle or that may be unhealthy. 

They need us to watch over them and their net relationship so it can develop  in a healthy manner. Our children deserve no less.  

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