Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Anti-Bullying Month - Are You Ready To Take The Cyber Balance Challenge?!

As we continue our discussion on Bullying and Cyber Bullying, today we are going to address two more important strategies - Protection and Prevention.  And, I am going to encourage you to take The Cyber Balance Challenge!  Let's get started!

First, let's understand what Protection is.  Protection means to take steps to help keep us safe or lower the risk of harm.  But, as we all know, when we take steps to protect ourselves, it doesn't mean that will stop or prevent harm from coming our way.  Still, it is important to put protective measures in place, especially with dangerous behaviors such as bullying and cyber bullying.  Because cyber bullying is so rampant and it is very often an extension of traditional bullying behaviors, I am going to give you 3 Keys for Protection from cyber bullying.

1.  First Key - Get yourself and your family on a Family Online Safety Contract (Family Online
Family Online Safety Contract
Safety Institute). 
 This is mandatory! Download one now and get started. If you want to develop one of your own, great!  Use this one as a sample. This agreement sets up the rules, expectations, guidelines, etc. for online usage for the entire family.  By implementing this contract,adults agree to take responsibility for their online roles and children agree to do theirs as well!

2. Second Key - Know why you are giving your children a piece of technology or giving them permission to utilize it!  Caving in to peer pressure is not a reason.Technology should be age appropriate and adults must take the time to instruct them on the usage of each device.

3. Third Key - Get to know your children's Net Neighborhood! Again, this is mandatory!  Just as parents would want to know where, when, and with whom their child is spending time with in the real world, responsible parents will also want to know this about the Net Neighborhood.  Sit down with them and have them show you where they 'hang out' in the Net World. This is  an amazing communication tool and a great way to protect them from harm.

There are other Protective steps on my website Holli Kenley and in  cyber bullying no more: Parenting A High Tech Generation.

Let's move on to Prevention. What does it mean? Prevention means to stop the harm or injury from coming our way and/or to keep the harm or injury from getting worse. In order to do this, we must address the cause. Although prevention is a little more tricky - especially with cyber bullying - it can be done. In the previous blog, we learned that bullying and cyber bullying are aggressive  behaviors - for the most part "learned behaviors".  There are two very important concepts that we must understand in addressing prevention.
  • Cyber bullying is a behavioral symptom or  manifestation of an underlying source - a lack of empathy for another individual.  Very simply, we cannot feel compassion for another person and simultaneously disrespect, dehumanize, and disregard the rights and being of another.
  • With the nature of cyber space and our ever-increasing dependence on communicating electronically (not face to face), we are more disconnected from the real world, we are freed up to behave in ways we would not normally do, and our behaviors are reinforced or conditioned by the technology itself and the features of cyber space. (More information on this in cyber bullying no more). 
Thus, in order to Prevent cyber bullying, we must address the cause - the erosion of empathy - as well as what is facilitating that erosion - our over-dependence on electronic communications. Although there are many important steps, let's start with these 3. Get ready...  You are going to need to Take The Cyber Balance Challenge!

1. First Key - Adopt an individual and family philosophy of Cyber Balance! For one week, take a survey of everyone in the family.  Write down every day how  many hours each person spends on technology.  At the same time, also write down how much time your family spends having face to face interactions - with no technology!! Be honest!  At the end of the week (including weekends), add up the hours for each. Ask yourself this question - are we in balance?  If so - great, keep up the good work! If not, regroup and set up new guidelines for cyber balance! Look to the Second Key  for help!

2.  Second Key - Find and establish ways to experience direct interaction - face to face - and practice empathic behaviors and reflective listening. Here are a few suggestions. Designate tech free periods during the day. During this time, as a family or individually, practice "doing good" for one another. Look for ways to cultivate empathy - helping out needy individuals, serving others, even doing each others' chores! Replace tech games with real life games and activities. Put all technology away at meal times and in short car rides. Have a tech free weekend once a month! When someone is talking, put down the technology, looks them in the eyes and listen! More suggestions are in cyber bullying no more! 

3. Third Key - Ouch!!!  Parents, guardians, and adults - you must model healthy use of technology! We must do what we say - we must practice what we preach! Let's live by example!  Put down your technology and spend time directly interacting with your children.  Be present and be available! Really listen to them - especially if you want them to listen to you!!

More steps for Prevention  are on my website, Holli Kenley - Recovery Expert.

And, I will be discussing Taking The Cyber Balance Challenge in more detail on W4CY Radio Wed. October 9, 2013 -  Holli Kenley - Keys For Recovery ! Join me at 12 pm ET!! If you  missed it, take a listen now....
Are You Ready To Take The Cyber Balance Challenge?

Homework:  Take The Cyber Balance Challenge - take your poll and regroup!  And, get your family on a Family Online Safety Contract!  Start today! 

      If you missed last week's show, take a listen  Anti-Bullying Month - Awareness & Intervention!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Anti-Bullying Month - How to Step Up and Step In!

October is a very busy month with several extremely important causes - Anti-Bullying, Breast Cancer, and Domestic Violence Awareness.  Today, we are going to focus on Anti-Bullying and Cyber Bullying. Although I blog about bullying and cyber bullying frequently, I want to focus on giving you a bit of background information and a few keys for intervention.  With a better understanding of both bullying and cyber bullying, we can step up our awareness and with a couple of strategies under our belts, we can step in and help our children more effectively!

First, let's start with a basic understanding what bullying and cyber bullying are.
  • For the most part, they are learned behaviors. This is important because if we learned it, we can unlearn it!
  • Both are considered aggressive behaviors  - some behaviors constitute a deliberate intent to harm and others are in reaction to being harmed.
  • Bullying and cyber bullying are different from "normal conflict". In "normal conflict", there is an equal balance of power; with both kinds of bullying, there is a significant power differential. 
  • Bullies and victims (both with traditional bullying and cyber bullying) can take on both roles. This  means that many times a child is who is a victim may also be a bully, and the reverse is true as well. The role of the bystander is also very important.
  • Children bully or cyber bully for many reasons.  The top 3 reasons (supported by research) are the following:  (1) For power and control or to feel better about themselves; (2) It is fun or cool; (3) For revenge or retaliation.  It is also important to note that individuals suffering with underlying mental health issues can also be a contributing factor.
Becoming aware of how, why and to what degree our children are involved in bullying or cyber bullying will help us to step in and intervene!  Let's take a look at 3 strategies.

1.  Have a conversation with your children about bullying and cyber bullying. 
  • This is important - put away all technology and set aside some time to really talk.  Share stories of when you were a child (talk about bullying or other difficult challenges).
  • Discuss bullying cases in the news or in your neighborhood, school, or town.
  • Watch the  movie Bully (or other films about bullying) and discuss it.  Bring the topic out into the open and make it comfortable for your children to share.  

2. Become familiar with the signs that your child may be being bullied or cyber bullied (or both).
  • Look for changes in behavior over a period of time.
  • Child may appear unusually sad, depressed, fearful and afraid.
  • Child is sleeping too much or is having difficulty sleeping.
  • Child isolates, withdraws, or spends  more time alone.
  • Child is easily angered or agitated (depression in children often looks like anger).
  • There is a change in routine, friends, or activities. Child does not want to go to school. 
3. Implement these first three strategies - for victim or bully or both.

 Victim: 3 S's
  • Support - Let children know you believe them and support them. You will make it better.
  • Safety Net - Let children know you will put safety measures in place: reporting to authorities, implementing technology tools, participating in a buddy system or support group.
  • Social Skills - Many children who are victims feel insecure, afraid, have low self-esteem and worth, or are withdrawn. Through activities, counseling, or group work, build up those skills - empower them! 
Bullies: 3 C's
  • Consequences - Punishment alone does not work well.  Find our why the bullying is going on and implement meaningful consequences.
  • Contract - Implement a behavioral contract that will change the behavior and reinforce appropriate behavior. Use positive reinforcement as much as possible.
  • Counseling - After knowing more about the kind of bullying, the degree of bullying, and why they child is bullying, please consider counseling. There may be underlying issues or mental health concerns.
There is more we can do to continue to become aware and to intervene with our children.  There is much more information on my website Holli Kenley and in my book cyber bullying no more .

And join me next week, on w4cy Radio - Kenley's Keys for Recovery when we discuss protection and prevention! 12 pm ET!

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