Advice For Parents
We all know that K-12 students are using digital platforms much more for personal and educational purposes during the COVID-19 pandemic. This opens the possibility that cyberbullying will occur online. Parents and kids need to know how to protect themselves during these trying times.
With so many U.S. states closing schools until the end of the school year, most children ages 6–12 say they are spending at least 50% more time in front of screens daily, according to new data from SuperAwesome, a kids technology company. This matters to parents who were already struggling to limit screen time for kids when they were in school. It’s a challenge to pull them away from their devices while they are forced to stay home away from their friends, peers and regular activities.
According to Sameer Hinduja, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at Florida Atlantic University, there are now an almost limitless number of potential targets and aggressors. “During this unprecedented time when [children] are all stuck at home, those same students will be using apps even more than they already do with them being forced to use online platforms for learning, regardless of their level of comfort or proficiency.”
Hinduja points out that targets of cyberbullying may feel uncomfortable asking for help and choose to suffer silently, so educators will not be able to see any visual cues since the student is not physically present in school.
In many cases, parents are at home with their kids more than ever before in large part because so many have been furloughed from work or lost their jobs. This provides an opportunity to be more mindful about how your child uses technology and social media.
It’s important for parents to talk openly with their child about bullying. Point out that those who bully generally have low self-esteem and bullying is a way for them to feel better about themselves.
Parents are under great pressure to closely monitor their kids’ behavior, mood swings and self-isolation. It’s important to talk to your kids frequently and be open to their feelings and concerns. Don’t play the blame game. Instead, serve as a guide to best practices when using online apps and other sites that may be breeding grounds for bullyers. Above all, be patient with your children because cyberbullying may affect their ability to do online work in a timely manner and it may cause them to hold their feelings inside, perhaps ashamed of what has happened to them online.
A United Nations study on cyberbullying found that around one-in-three young people across 30 countries say they have been bullied online, while one-in-five report that they have skipped school because of it. I wonder, what would be the results of a similar survey during the coronavirus ordeal? More important, where should parents go to monitor their kids’ online activities? Here is some guidance:
- Nearly half (47%) have received intimidating, threatening or nasty messages online so check their emails.
- More youngsters experienced cyberbullying on Instagram than any other platform at 42 percent, with Facebook following close behind at 37 percent. Snapchat ranked third at 31 percent.
- Seventy-one percent of the survey participants said that social media platforms do not do enough to prevent cyberbullying. Perhaps reach out to those if your kid has been bullied if for no other reason than to inform the social media platform about the bullying.
One popular way for kinds to gain screen time during the coronavirus is to stream videos and play games online. Typically, kids access Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and other sites. Younger kids also watch shows like Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.
Most recently, kids have turned to physical play using a digital forum which may not be all that bad because it brings your kinds closer to schoolmates. Parents should look for opportunities to connect their kids to friends in a healthy way. A good place to start is communicate with other parents about what they are doing, or willing to do, to create healthy outlets for their kids during these difficult times.
Posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on April 21, 2020. Dr. Mintz recently published a book Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior that is available on Amazon. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics.