Bullying has taken on a new form since our generation, and with social media, memes, gifs, and photo editing apps it’s never been easier to be bullied online. Cyberbullying is a dangerous side effect of social media, adding yet another obstacle to navigate in the already complex life of a teenager. While young people can always hit that big red block button, there are other ways to stop cyberbullies in their tracks. As parents, we can help them!
Encourage your child to Choose “Friends” Wisely
As the new kid in school, it’s tempting for children to want to make fast friends on social media as a way to keep up with the latest gossip and see what other other students are up to. But not everyone on social media is a safe friend to connect with. Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and other sites can quickly become a dangerous breeding ground for arguments, off-handed comments, and inappropriate images, so children must be warned to choose their friends and followers wisely as opposed to adding anyone and everyone to up their friend count. You can advise that your child only add people they’ve actually met in person such as classmates or teammates, and expand from there. The likelihood of your child listening is slim, but as a parents, we have to do our due diligence and at least offer the wisdom.
Invite Friends Over in Person
A move is a great time to make lifelong friends, and what better way to do that than some quality time together? Encourage your children to invite new friends over to your house or create a hangout night at a local ice cream shop or theater. There’s nothing like a little face-to-face time to see someone’s true colors, whether good or bad. Try not to make it an awkdward experience for your child. This face to face intro will give you an opportunity, as parent to detect red flags that your child may be overlooking
Have Open Conversations
You might not always be in the mood to talk, but your parents and other prominent adults in your life always are and they are here to help in any way they can. Keep an open line of communication, and realize that home isn’t the only place where help is available. Perhaps there is a teacher or coach you feel comfortable talking to. All schools have guidance counselors, and they are there to offer you just that — guidance. Establishing these relationships will provide a safety resource in the event that you encounter a cyberbully.
Create a Safe Home Environment
Home should be a safe place away from peer pressure and the stress that school can bring. Your new home might not feel like home just yet, but remember, home is all about the people that make you feel safe and loved. It is tempting to retreat to your room and peruse the latest Instagram posts and Facebook updates, but take some time away from the screen to spend time with family and friends, destress, explore a new hobby, or get a jumpstart on that homework assignment.