Many of us have some idea of how to deal with face-to-face bullies.
But in this digital age – how many of us are aware of a more sinister threat?
Cyberbullying and cyberstalking bring the bully into your home uninvited to terrorize you and your children whenever you turn on your computer. Our youngest son, Bud, had to deal with a cyberstalker this last summer. Here are some ways that we learned to future cyberthreats:
Decide on what age you are comfortable having your child go online “unsupervised”
Some of my friends allowed their child to play games online under their parents’ user name from a young age, but for most 13 is considered a reasonable age for letting your child have their own Facebook account. When my children started on Myspace they had to give me their passwords and knew that I would do random spot checks to make sure they were behaving themselves. If they were not following our rules, they would have their internet privileges taken away for a week and worst case I actually had to delete Bud’s account for six months soon after we first allowed him to go online because he couldn’t control himself verbally.
Teach your child how to protect their Facebook account
All privacy settings should be set to Friends only. With this setting, your children are not searchable except by those they have already friended. They should only friend people they know personally. You, the parent, should be one of their Facebook friends.
Know what to do if you or your child are targeted by a cyberbully/cyberstalker.
Even with all your precautions, cyberbullying/cyberstalking can still occur if a friend turns on you or your child or if you friend someone who “tricked” you (used a false name, was deceptive.) Here are some ways to deal with the problem:
Save and print out the threats the other person is making
Hit CTRL +Prnt Scrn keys together, then open Wordpad or another word processing program and hit CTRL +V to paste. Save this document in a folder labelled with the bully’s name . I suggest saving the documents with date and time. For example, if Lauren is the bully, the folder would be LaurenCyberBully and the document would be 10-26-11-1231pm. This is your evidence. Don’t lose it!!
Block the person so you cannot see anything they post.
Some bullies will try to get around this by posting threats against you on the wall of a mutual friend.
Report the person’s account to Facebook
Go to the offender’s profile page and towards the bottom on the left is a link titled Report/Block. Fill out the information and at the very least, Facebook will give the person a warning, or if justified, remove the person’s account.
Report the person to the police
Cyberstalking is a crime in many states. Be sure to present your evidence.
Remind yourself (or your child) that you are not defined by what other people think or say about you
You know what is true and right about yourself and you don’t have to listen to other people’s lies, deceptions, or threats. Cyberstalking is a major invasion of privacy and you might feel better talking it out with friends and/or loved ones, or if necessary seeking counseling.