How To Protect Your Child on Facebook
In our hyper connected and digital environment, many children are being exposed to a frightening epidemic of bullying. Unfortunately, bullying has evolved with the times and now has gone digital. Today’s bullies have morphed from the playground and school cafeterias into invisible threats trolling social media and the Internet as cyberbullies.
Recent data is showing that 87 percent of children have witnessed at least one form of cyber bullying. That number is high, but we need to consider is that this rate has TRIPLED within the last few years. Cyber bullying, even with all the education and awareness, is still prevalent among children and teen populations.
Ways Cyberbullies Use Facebook To Hurt And Harm
Our youth’s love affair with social media is creating a breeding ground for invisible bullies on popular sites like Facebook. It is estimated that about two-thirds of U.S. teens are registered on the social media giant, Facebook. Unfortunately, close to one million kids who have accounts on Facebook have experienced some form of bullying.
The problem with Facebook is it encourages a “pile-on” mentality by encouraging likes and comments that make a victim feel like the world agrees with hurtful comments posted by
cyberbullies. Facebook is also a notorious breeding ground for fake profiles. It is believed that there are 83 million fake profiles on the social network. Whether these are used to lure in victims for bullying or to hide activity from parents- it can create a negative atmosphere.
Facebook has taken notice of the prevalence of cyber bullying on their social network and has taken measures to combat this epidemic of invisible bullies. In their effort to curb digital aggression, the company has added flags to report offensive posts and cracked down on fake profiles. Facebook has also started raising social awareness with public service announcements, posts, and campaigns to prevent cyber bullying.
Overcoming Invisible Facebook Bullies
While Facebook is making an effort to keep cyber bullying off millions of feeds, cyber bullying still continues to threaten children. In fact, data is showing rates of cyber bullying has tripled. The study indicated that 87 percent of our children have witnessed cyber bullying in some form, which is a huge jump from the previous 27 percent.
Thankfully, parents can help protect children by following these recommendations:
Immediately unfriend or unfollow the bully. Create a buffer between the bully and your child to reduce the amount of direct contact and interaction.
Block aggressors by using Facebook’s settings. You simply need to know the usernames or email addresses of the people you wish to block and click on the security settings (a small padlock) at the top right corner of any Facebook page. Next, click on How do I stop someone from bothering me? and enter the names. Finally, choose BLOCK.
Report or flag inappropriate posts to Facebook. If this action doesn’t stop the bullying, take screenshots of the material and directly contact the social media giant for an intervention or to block access to the bully’s accounts.
Read and open all messages together. Share the burden and be there to support your child. This will also give you the opportunity to document and know exactly what is happening.
Know your child’s social media and device habits. Monitor their activity, know passwords and usernames to all accounts, and check out their friend lists.
Encourage children to only friend people they actually know. Fake personas gain a child’s trust to learn embarrassing details to inflict pain on victims.
Talk openly about cyber bullying and online safety. Routinely have a conversation about things to avoid online and ways to protect their digital bodies.
Help set a child’s privacy settings. Take a few minutes to show your child the necessary steps to learn lifelong skills necessary for a digital world.
Follow the recommended minimum age guidelines. Many children under the age of 13 have accounts and their maturity might not be adequate to handle social media responsibilities without parental involvement.
Limit social media and technology in the home. Take a break from technology during family dinners or power all electronics down at a certain time every night. Allow children a break from the constant barrage of insults and create a safe place for them to unwind.
Let your child know that things will get better! Remind them that eventually this cruelty will stop. If necessary, seek professional guidance to help a child overcome this trying period in his or her life.
What are some ways you keep your child safe from cyberbullies on Facebook?