As parents, we want to safeguard and protect our children from harm. Many parents are aware of the term, bullying and know the effects that bullying has on children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that bullying can increase the likelihood of depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and struggle with academics. Nowadays, technology brings forth a more sinister form of bullying, called cyberbullying. Cyberbullying, also considered peer victimization, occurs via the Internet along with other forms of social media. This form of bullying includes posting malicious comments on social media, text messages and other types of platforms. In addition, this form of bullying someone can make threats, spread rumors and cause increased issues. Sadly, people nowadays treat screens (ex. Phones, tablets, laptops) as an extra appendage. Having a screen is such a necessity in recent times that screens are being given to children at a very young age. There are benefits of introducing screens to our youth, yet if we do not know what to look out for it can be difficult to protect our children from escalating cyberbullying. But how do we as parents protect our children from cyberbullying? The answer is, it’s hard! In fact, nearly 60% of children do not tell their parents they are being cyberbullied. We cannot protect our children from everything, but we can take steps to create, and establish rules for health technology usage. These rules come from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation to assist parents and their families in creating healthy rules at home for technology. Out of the 23 rules given, the following five were deemed the most important to share.
  1. Balance! As parents, it’s important to assist your children in teens in finding balance between non-technology and technology usage. Help them explore different real life activities while they engage in using their technology. We always talk about work life balance, we need to create a screen and life balance as well.
  2. Communication is so very important with children and teens. Talk to them about the real life safety issues and concerns about technology usage, such as cyberbullying. We spend a full year learning how to drive a car, along with two different tests in order to legally drive, but there is no training for safety concerns on using technology.
  3. As parents, it should be a rule that you get all passwords to the devices and social media, and this is not negotiable! Along with setting clear parameters to checking in on your child’s technology usage and continue to stick with it.
  4. Establish technology free zones and/or times at home. This includes parents and caregivers as well. For example, between the hours of 4 and 6 no technology can be utilized. Or in the kitchen and dining room no technology can be used.
  5. Get creative with the rules! Change the Wi-Fi password daily, which kids will have to complete chores or tasks to access the Wi-Fi. Give children a phone that’s a generation older than yours to stay on top of the screen game.
  Overall, as parents and caregivers we must model what healthy screen time and usage looks like. We cannot always protect our children from harm, yet we can create steps and rules to protect them. If you are interested in receiving support for yourself and/or family in recovering from cyberbullying or cyberbullying prevent, please contact Therapy Etc.