Ways to Protect Your Child
There are many ways to protect your child from cyber bullying, and you don't have to be a technical genius to do so.
Many parents think they can install filtering software on their child's computer and — voila! — the child is protected. This is far from the truth; bullying can occur in spite of the best parental-control software. Unless you know exactly who your child is communicating with online, what websites he's visiting, what communities he belongs to, which social networking sites he uses, and what types of communications he is sending and receiving, you are not doing enough to protect your child.
Many parents are surprised to find out that their child is being cyber bullied or that their child is a cyber bully. It is not usually something that a parent can uncover at first glance. It can take careful monitoring and ongoing supervision to discover a problem — and by then, the harm has been done.
There are dozens of existing social networking sites (besides MySpace and Facebook), and more are being created every day. Here are a few of them: Bebo — open to people 13 and older; Classmates — open to all; Friendster — open to people 16 and older; Habbo — open to people 13 and older; MOG — open to people 14 and older; Windows Live — open to all.
Have an Open-Door Policy
Keep the computer in a public family space in your home. You can keep tabs on what your child is doing, what sites he is visiting, and who he is communicating with if you can see the screen. Make sure you know all of the screen names and passwords your child uses to access his private information and online communities. Explain that you will only use these if you suspect he is in danger or that he is engaging in unsafe or irresponsible behavior. Be clear about your rules for online behavior and don't hesitate to enforce them.
Install Monitoring Software
You can buy and install keystroke-monitoring software that will record all of your child's online activities. This will allow you to monitor the communications and online activities of your child should you suspect he's being bullied or is bullying other children.
Is your child a supercommunicator?
According to the Teens and Social Media study conducted by Pew Internet & American Life Project, 28 percent of kids are super-communicators who use every available means of technology to communicate (phone, cell phone, text message, instant message, social networking sites, and e-mail). These kids thrive on multitasking and enjoy staying in constant contact with family and friends.