Talking to teens about cyberbullying is a different story. If you have a teen and haven’t already been discussing online safety, you should start. If my teens are any example of the “typical” teen, they already know everything there is to know about the Internet and don’t need me teaching them anything about online safety! (Seriously, and I am the “Chief Cyber Security Mom”)
So I approach a conversation with my teen a bit differently. It goes something like this and it generally takes place at the dinner table or in the car when they are “trapped” and can’t get away. ; )
Cyber Mom: “Did you see the news? Another teenager commit suicide because they were being bullied online. That is just awful.”
Teen: “Yeah, I saw that.”
CM: “Do you know anyone who has been bullied online?”
Teen: “No, not really.” (at this point they are still trying to figure out how to change the subject)
CM: “Oh that’s good. If that ever happened to you, do you know what to do?”
CM: “Well, first, do you know how to block a person from im’ing you or writing on your wall on Facebook?”
At this point the conversation is started. They may know someone all ready and then you have an actual story to work with where they can tell you what happened and you both can discuss what was good and bad about how that example was handled. Perhaps they will tell you that someone is currently saying mean things about them, if they do, it is time to come up with a plan.
1. Have them show you any texts, emails or comments that they have received.
2. Show them how to block that person. (If it is via text, call your cell phone provider)
3. Consider installing software on your computer incase the bullying escalates. McAfee Family Protection can help you manage their contacts and records conversations on social networking sites.
4. Teach your teen not to delete emails or comments without taking a screen shot. (ctrl + print screen buttons on the keyboard)
5. Remind them to walk away. If an online conversation has them upset, tell them to “take five” rather than participate in a bullying situation.
This is a conversation I have with my teen every time a story about cyberbullying is on the news. I find that he may not take in all the tips at one time and each time we talk, he learns something new. I also find that discussing the topic often keeps the doors to communication open so he knows that he can come to me if something does happen. I still occasionally get the eye role, but at least he is prepared to deal with a potentially difficult situation if it ever happens.
Stay safe out there!