More and more often, school personnel are contacted
by parents, asking what can be done to stop
cyberbullying in their own homes. One anti-bullying website advises,
"put down the mouse and walk away, and no one will get hurt!" But the
bottom line remains, you have control over your computer, and your
child's computer activities, in your own home.
Numerous Web sites exist to advise parents how to
safely supervise and monitor their child's Web activities, and most
importantly, information their child may be transmitting, or have
posted, on the web. As a parent, you need to be aware of the social
networking sites and monitor any information your child may have posted
there, and know the names of people they communicate with via IM's,
e-mails, or postings.
Commonly visited sites are: www.facebook.com,
www.myspace.com, www.friendster.com, www.webshots.com,
www.livejournal.com and www.xanga.com. As a parent, you have a
responsibility not only to monitor your child's Web activities, but also
to set reasonable limits on the time your child spends there, to
establish a healthy balance between their web surfing, academic
responsibilities, and other family or social or recreational pursuits.
If you suspect your child is being cyberbullied,
save all evidence (print out e-mails, IM's) and file a complaint
immediately with the Internet service provider, mobile phone company, or
Web site. Cyberbullying is typically
a violation of the "terms of usage." If there is any indication that
your child is being threatened, contact your
local law enforcement agency. In addition, parents can:
Place the home computer in a public area, such as
the living room or den, so that you can monitor usage more closely.
Ask your child to show you any sites s/he uses regularly, you can
also check the history on the computer to see what sites s/he visits.
Change or delete a profile or screen name that is the target of
cyberbullying. Only provide the new one to
bona fide friends of your child.
Consider using filtering software. These programs allow you to block
certain websites, control incoming/outgoing email messages, and set a
limit for "online time."
Even without software, parents need to monitor and set limits on, the
amount of time their children spend in cyberspace, so that he or she
engages in a healthy balance of activities.
New York Times Dec. 4, 2010 article "As Bullies Go Digital, Parents Play
Check out the following Web sites regularly to keep
up with internet trends and safety issues:
How common is cyberbullying?
90 percent of middle school students have had their
feelings hurt online
75 percent have visited a Web site bashing another student
40 percent have had their password(s) stolen and changed by a bully who
then locked them out of their own account or sent communications posing
Only 15 percent of parents polled could define cyberbullying
What Parents Can Do
Rosalind Wiseman, educator and author of the best
seller "Queen Bees & Wannabes" and "Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads,"
suggests the following tips for parents:
Use technology as an opportunity to reinforce
your family values. If you buy a cell phone or computer for your
child, attach rules for appropriate use and consequences if these
rules are broken.
Move the computer out of your child’s bedroom
and into the family room.
Teach your child not to share passwords.
Install monitoring and filtering software. Find
free downloads at k9webprotection.com and safefamilies.org.
Monitor your child’s screen name(s) and Web
sites for inappropriate content.
Save and print out any evidence if your child is
cyberbullied. Decide together to whom you should go for additional
For a link to a Rosalind Wiseman interview with Matt
For a "Parenting Online" booklet from