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!

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