Cyber bullying is a serious issue that affects many people worldwide and our children often become the victims. Bullying should never be an acceptable act especially among children. It happens and that raises the concern of protecting our children from cyber bullying as for many instances it happens on social media.
According to www.stopbullying.gov:
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation.
In this digital age in our world, most children are online. Children even spend more time online now with their gadgets and no longer on watching TV, according to one study. These days, they already have their own gadgets or can use computers or gadgets where they can access their social media accounts – Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, which are among the more popular ones while there are many other networks out there where they communicate, interact and share basically their lives online.
As parents and responsible adults we need to make it safe for our children when they go online and use social media through their gadgets. In as much as we cant to believe that we have a wonderful world out there, our children may still be prone and vulnerable to the possibility of being bullied online.
It could happen when someone insults, call them names or harass children online; hacks or uses your children’s social media accounts to steal information, private photos and videos which will be used maliciously against them and shared publicly to cause embarrassment and humiliation.
“The Philippines is considered fourth in the world in reported instances of cyber bullying. This highlights digital citizenship as a major social need for young people in Philippine society. To improve the well being of young Filipinos, Globe wants to adapt the successful and best-in-class Digital Thumbprint model of Optus for the local context,” said Bong Esguerra, Director for Globe Corporate Social Responsibility. This was from a press release from Globe in the year 2016 when Globe launched their Digital Thumbprint cyber wellness advocacy in partnership with Optus, Singtel.
In relation to that, SVP for Corporate Communications Ms. Yoly Crisanto then said that, “As we help build the Philippines into a digital nation, we need to educate, at the same time, protect our youth on the impact of technology in their lives.” As a mother, I believe that includes social media technology use of our youth – including our own children. Let’s #makeITsafePH.
As technology advanced, more and more people use social media, including our children. It may have a lot of good use in our children’s lives when used properly in terms of being an inspiration, in learning, communicating, expressing their thoughts, showing or sharing their talents, and socializing online.
However, we cannot avoid the reality that there may be bad instances when they get bullied online which may also affect their lives negatively or in extreme cases, may unfortunately even cause more harm when they fail to cope with the bad effects of social media like on their emotional and psychological aspect. When people, who could be total strangers, peers, friends, classmates, neighbors or anybody start bullying them online, they get emotionally hurt, they could lose their confidence and self-worth which could cause long term effects on how they deal and go on with their lives. Some victims, if not most victims, are silent about it and keep it all to themselves for fear of being judged, humiliated and embarrassed even more.
We need to protect our children. We need to teach them how they can avoid being bullied online and what to do if they become a victim of cyber bullying. Here are some thoughts:
- Instill in our children the attitude of love, kindness and respect for one another. The chances of children bullying and getting bullied online will be lessened or avoided if children have respect and kindness towards other people. Define what a bully is to children and emphasize the importance of kindness and respect in treating others in terms of their actions and words – online and even offline or in person. It can be easy to make jokes on other people which may be regarded as simply harmless to one child without realizing that it has hurt the other child’s feelings.
- Let children think and take time to assess their thoughts before they become words that come out from their mouth, before they get posted online. It may gain negative reactions and comments online. Teach them to avoid such instances to prevent being bullied. Teach them to weigh their words and action as to how this will affect people they interact with online.
- It is also very important that children are constantly reminded that they should never ever bully anyone – offline or online. If they don’t want it done to them, they should not do it to others too.
- They could also avoid other children who have attitude problems. Restricting or blocking off people they are not comfortable sharing stuff online can be a measure to avoid any instances of bullying. Making their accounts and profiles private in the first place is important to ward off bullies and predators as well.
- Monitor your children’s online usage. Parents should check on their children’s online activities and ask them from time to time what they have been doing online. One thing that could help is to make sure that your children use their computers in a common area in the house where you would be able to see and check on them from time to time what they do online or who they are interacting with online.
- Encourage your children to use their time online for productive and educational purposes. Perhaps less time on social media will hopefully lessen the chances of being bullied online in some cases for children who may be more prone to being bullied.
- Know their online friends and remind them to be careful in adding, making friends and chatting with especially total strangers they met only in the internet. The possibility of a trusted person’s account being hacked these days is also possible. So they should make sure, they choose well what they share online.
- Children should be able to add parents or responsible guardians as a contact or friend in their online accounts for transparency and online monitoring as much as possible.
- Remind them to be very careful in sharing photos and especially personal or private information. Never ever post or share photos or information that are private, too personal or confidential even in private messages like in instant messaging like Messenger, private or direct messages in social media account, or even in emails.
- Remind your children constantly to not overshare. Sharing too much personal information and photos may have a disadvantage at some point as these can be used maliciously by other people.
- Remind also your children to be careful when sharing their computers, laptops, smartphones or gadgets to other people even to so-called friends especially when and where their social media accounts are logged in. They will never know when their private photos, videos or private information will be taken and saved without permission and used against them maliciously.
- Parents should be able to communicate openly and regularly with their children. We should be able to communicate to our children seriously about how they go about their behavior and actions when they are online. They need to understand when parents or adults explain the negative impact bullying online (even offline) has on others – may it be their peers, friends or other people they interact with online.
- If you sense that your child seems to be hiding something or not telling you something, this should serve as a warning to take time to look into what could be wrong. Some children become secretive when their parents ask them if they have a problem online specifically if they are being bullied. Children may often tend to hide the fact that they are already being bullied because some of them fear that they may be initially scolded and made to feel the blame for what has happened, instead of being understood, supported and given immediate help and intervention. We need to be that trusted parent they can turn to when others hurt them. They could also be threatened to be physically harmed or humiliated if they report cyber bullying to friends or their parents. Tell your children this should not be a reason to keep the bullying that is happening a secret for it should be immediately stopped and proper intervention should take place before things get out of hand.
- Make your children feel that they can trust you as their parents. Assure your children that when someone bullies them online, they could and should talk to you immediately, ask and get help from you. That you are there to protect and help them when someone bullies them online. Tell them that they should immediately tell you if become a victim of cyber bullying (even offline or bullying in person).
- Don’t rely when your children tell you verbally that they have no problem or everything is okay. As moms, we have an intuition or we could somehow sense that something is not right. When they usually open up before about anything then suddenly they don’t talk as much anymore about what they do online or who they interact with, or you see a change in behavior that isn’t good and normal, take immediate action and check on their online activities. Try to find out if they have become victims of cyber bullying.
- Tell your children not to respond to any threats of bullying or comments posted online. Tell them not to delete it either and keep it as proof and evidence so proper action can be taken towards the bully and the incidents of bullying online. Block the bully from their account to avoid further incidence of bullying.
- Talk to the school guidance counselor, teacher or class adviser when the bully happens to be a classmate or schoolmate. Know the school policies and rules on this matter.
- Adult and proper intervention should be addressed and done on the victim and more so on the bully to avoid long term negative effects and consequences that they might carry on further in life.
- If children are seriously being threatened in any way, report immediately and seek help from the authorities or law enforcement.
- Please tell your children that their life is far more important and valuable. If ever they become victims of cyber bullying, it should NEVER ever be a reason for them to hurt their own self. Don’t let the bullies or predator have power over the victim.
- Cyber bullying or bullying in general, may cause shame and embarrassment on the victim, remind your children that no matter what, their life is still very much worth living and while it may take time to move on and forget all the consequences, assure them of the family’s love and support. With God’s help and especially of the family and friends’ support, the victims can move on and live life normal once again.
- Children be careful what you post on social media. Think well before you post and share.
I asked some friends and mothers how they protect their children from being victims of cyber bullying on social media.
Openness is key. Let your child be open to harsh realities so they be prepared. Be proactive. Make your child and his / her community be part of spreading the love and good vibes through positive influence in social responsible media. Be an example. Your social media accounts should reflect that advocacy of positivity and love. Remain hopeful.
DOT ASec. Eden Larano David, a mother and tourism advocate
To protect children from cyberbullying, parents must supervise and limit social media usage by children. Account must also be made private to ward off unwanted and unknown people and limit viewers to friends and family only. Any signs of “friends” with toxic language will be blocked.Mommy Jenny, mother of 3 girls
Social media x our kids these days are inevitable. To protect them from cyberbullying is kind of hard since a lot of factors are way beyond our control. But as a parent, I always make it a habit to lurk all the time at their accounts. Monitor unlikely (but not too engaged since they don’t like it) activities, especially comments on social media and remind them always of the limits of information, pictures and personal details to share.
Mommy Verna Luga
My 11 year old son has started having his own social media accounts around last year. As a mother, I was in my mind somehow anxious of how he would go about it on what he will post or what he will see, watch and learn from what his peers, classmates, friends and other people share online. At first I tried to make sure I know his passwords to his accounts. He would share to me what his passwords were. Though he has changed his passwords, I gave him freedom and at the same time talked to him about his responsibility. I remind him that he should be responsible and to be careful online. I also remind him not to share his passwords to other people even his friends.
As a mom though I personally feel I still want to have control. But young children these days often know better how to go around their parents unless they are more techie than their kids. Children learn fast. We should always be there to guide and remind them to be always responsible online and even offline.
It is also important for us parents to embrace them with kindness and love so that they will also treat other people with love and kindness too – not just online but in the real world they live in! In as much as we want to shield and protect them, they have to learn to deal with life by themselves as they grow up. We continuously pray, that people in this digital age will be kinder and the world where our children live in, will be safer.
Mommy Maritess, work at home mom with 2 boys.
Parenting in this digital age can be challenging as we are faced with many complicated decisions. “Are we allowing our kids to use gadgets or have their own?” “Can they control themselves and be time-conscious in using these gadgets?” “How can we make sure that they only access age-appropriate websites?” “Can they protect themselves from harmful information?” “Can we stop them from being exposed to violent realities like cyber-bullying among others?”
My husband and I had our own challenges in dealing with our children’s use of gadgets – fortunate that we have not encountered any serious issues (God forbid!). As we continuously guide them, my husband and I make sure that we are steadfast in our parenting principles. Teaching and showing our kids their worth as responsible individuals, inculcating in them self-confidence, boosting their self-esteem, training them how to deal with unfavorable circumstances and encouraging open communication are just among the methods we do religiously to protect our children from cyber-bullying and other atrocities of the real world.
Busyqueenphils, mom of 3
To help protect your children from being victims of cyberbullying on social media: Monitor her social media sites; follow or add her as a friend on social media; you need to know her username or password on emails and social media accounts; set rules on your child such as limiting her use or time she or he will spend on social networking sites and teach her to behave responsibly to prevent conflicts on social media. Most important of all, if someone is bullying him/her, advise your child it is okay to delete or block this person online.
Karen Alcantara, mother of 2 girls.
It’s important to have an honest communication with your kids so set aside time to discuss cyberbullies. Let them know you’re aware of it, and if they are experiencing it, you definitely want to help to put a stop to it.
About cyberbullying. First, I see to it that my kids use the computer where I can see them and have a sneak glance of what they’re opening or doing and not just letting them use it inside their room. I should be the one to teach them awareness on all forms of bullying cyber or in the real world so they will know if their classmates or friends are crossing the border lines of humor and bullying.
They should also limit their posting of pictures and messages on social media especially the ones that will trigger so many comments. We know that greater percentage of cyber bullying comes from social media sites.
If the cyberbullying happens the kids should not respond to the comments as it will trigger more harmful and bullying comments….instead record every data of the one who tries to bully kids…save the comments, profile, IP address, email address and anything that may serve as evidence just in case there’s a need.
Then upon learning that your kid is a victim of bullying give your love and understanding.. most of the times kids don’t tell they’re being bullied so be alert of the changes in their attitude.
Race Abug, a good blogger friend and mother of 3 beautiful children
Based on my experience sa eldest daughter ko, I personally call the attention of their teacher, since ang nagbully sa anak ko classmate nya. Then I talk with my two daughters, pag may magbully ulet tapos di nila kilala or nakilala lang nila via FB or Twitter, block them.Pal Raine, mother of 2 girls.
Most of the social media platforms have age requirements. As much as you can, don’t allow your kids to join unless they get into certain age when they become responsible what to post and who to accept as their audience. I allowed my kids to join on some platforms to showcase their works like Instagram. But I tell them not to post photos of themselves.
Virgi Catz, mother of 3 girls
Thank you so much to these beautiful moms who took time to share their thoughts on cyberbullying!
I would love to hear your thoughts on how you protect your children from cyber bullying. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. You can also share it on social media and please use the hashtag #makeITsafePH.
Globe Telecom’s #makeITsafePH Campaign
Hootsuite, a US-based social media management platform, has released its “Digital in 2018” report of social media and digital trends around the world. The report revealed that the Philippines now has 67 million Internet users, with all of them active on social media. This widespread use of the internet gives rise to the emergence of internet-related crimes such as rape, theft, bullying and piracy which made the public, especially the youth, very vulnerable.
Because of this, Globe Telecom, being a purveyor of digital lifestyle, came out with the #makeITsafePH cybersecurity and cyberwellness campaign, under its CyberPinoy cyber wellness program, to educate consumers about online threats and what they can do to avoid becoming a victim. The campaign also teaches the public proper online etiquette so that they would not become a source of such deplorable behavior. The campaign covers all stakeholders such as big corporations, small and medium-scale enterprises, government agencies, colleges and universities, and the general public.
Let’s all support Globe Telecom’s #makeITsafePH campaign. Cyber bullying and bullying should be immediately stopped. Let’s all make it a wonderful digital world for our children to be part of.
Have a wonderful day everyone!
Spread love and kindness!