Electronic Media Can Endanger As Well As Empower Your Kids
Cyber bullying is rampant. Every day children are being humiliated, violated, and degraded through the use of electronic devices. Young people are frightened and don't know where to turn. Parents are frustrated and unsure how to help or how to protect their children. Although there are dozens of excellent books, videos, websites, and resources addressing cyber bullying, this book will give parents/guardians a manageable number of effective parenting strategies to incorporate into their lives and their children's.
- Parents/guardians will learn practical safety measures that can be easily implemented for the protection of their children.
- Parents/guardians will learn a series of intervention strategies to utilize once their child has experienced a cyber bullying attack.
- Parents/guardians will learn how they can play a role in the prevention of cyber bullying by educating themselves on principles of causation.
- Parents/guardians will be given specific tools or exercises to implement within each strategy.
- Parents/guardians will be given recommendations for additional support and education.
Therapists' Acclaim for Cyber Bullying No More
"Rather imply that families can return to some idealistic less complicated time without Facebook, sexting, social networks, and Twitter, and whatever else comes along, Kenley's booklet will help parents mitigate possible harm to their children as they integrate this technology hopefully into healthy lives and relationships."
--Ronald Mah, M.A. LMFT, author of Difficult Behavior in Early Childhood and The One Minute Temper Tantrum Solution
"Holli addresses children's readiness for technology as well as rules, contracts and education for parents to consider for their children as they introduce or allow entry of new technology into their lives. Cyber bullying and victimization are concerns addressed as well as internet resources for parents, with tools for protection, interventions and prevention--a must for parents in our technological world."
--Lani Stoner, Marriage and Family Therapist
Learn more at www.HolliKenley.com
From the Growing With Love Series at Loving Healing Press www.LovingHealing.com
|Publisher:||Loving Healing Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.06(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Our children are growing up on a diet of technology with immediate access to worldwide social connections. Because it has become so common in our society for our children to have a cell phone, laptop, iPhone, or iPad, etc., we sometimes forget about the window of danger that is open to them. Parents would never hand over the car keys to their teens without the required number of education courses, behind-the-wheel practice hours, and supervision by an adult. And yet, we put a cell phone or a laptop in the hands of young children without adequate preparation, instruction or monitoring. We can begin protecting our high-tech children by implementing several safety measures into our parenting.
1. Know why you are giving your children access to a piece of technology or giving them permission to utilize the technology.
One excellent tool of measurement as to when a child should be given a piece of technology is for the parent/guardian to have a valid reason for doing so. These reasons might include providing for the safety of children or for emergency contacts. Caving into peer pressure or your child's rebellious attitude is never an example of responsible parenting. As children age, more access to different kinds of technology is appropriate. Again, check your adult rationale for doing so. However, with each device, parents must gradually guide their children through the various electronic mediums and venues. If your child made a new friend you'd want to know where he is going, what he is doing. The same is true with this piece of technology. Teach your children how to navigate through the new territory. If you are like many parents/guardians who are not as tech savvy as their children, have them share their web world with you while discussing and implementing safety measures.
2. Clearly explain the rules and expectations about the use of technology.
Families need to take time to talk about how to use technology responsibly. Handing it over without instruction is leading your child blindly into a dangerous environment. Whether it is a cell phone, laptop, iPad, etc., develop a set of rules and expectations about its usage:
What is it to be used for?
How often can it be used?
When and where is it not to be used?
What costs are being incurred? Who will pay?
Who or what may be contacted? Who or what is not to be contacted?
It is mandatory that parents/guardians establish an "internet use agreement" with their children. Examples can be found and downloaded from
Family Online Internet Safety Contract
Family Internet Use Contract and Cell Phone Use Contract
Family Contract for Online Safety (Patchin & Hinduja, 2011).
Although it seems like a lot of energy and time to hammer out an agreement or to put one into place, remember that we are talking about the safety of children. Like most issues in parenting, doing the hard work upfront often saves everyone from tremendous heartache in the end.
3. Monitor the use of the technology.
When parents/guardians have established some ground rules for use of technology, they then have a foundation from which to monitor the agreed-upon expectations. This serves as an excellent communication tool to revise and revisit needs as they change or evolve. Parents often think that as children get older, less supervision is needed. However, research shows that the more young people become proficient on the computer, the more likely they are to engage in cyber bullying or to be victimized. We also know that children's knowledge of technology in relationship to their respective ages far surpasses their ability to make evaluative or analytical judgments regarding the dangers and risks of online behaviors. Keeping this in mind, parents/guardians do not need to be constantly monitoring their children, but it is vital to check frequently and do so with careful examination. Other helpful hints include:
Keeping computers, laptops, etc. within the family room, kitchen, etc. Have them visible!
No "after hours" usage (refer to family contract).
Talk openly about the kinds of activities, sites, etc. your children are using, discovering, avoiding, etc.
4. Implement safety measures.
In the early stages of introducing your children to healthy online communication, implement the following safety measures:
Protect passwords. Teach children not to share their passwords.
Protect profiles. Teach children to limit the amount and kinds of information posted online. Also, utilize the security setting provided by the online social sites.
Obtain filtering and monitoring software.
Monitor your child's online reputation.
5. Establish a net neighborhood.
In her book The Bully, The Bullied, and The Bystander (2008), Barbara Coloroso strongly suggests that parents/guardians embrace technology in the same manner as they would when introducing their children to a new neighborhood. Some of her suggestions include:
Parents/guardians need to get to know the net neighborhood. Educate yourselves and know who and what you are dealing with. Once again, if you find yourself struggling with the cyber world, have your children teach you!
As young children begin to venture out, supervise them and explore with them!
As children grow and mature, give them more freedom but explain the risks as well as the responsibilities that come with that independence.
Get to know your children's web buddies, just as you would their friends.
Understand, parents/guardians, that your children have a "relationship" with the web. Your oversight is no less important than if it were your child's first serious boyfriend/girlfriend.
Keep communication channels open; let your children know you are there for them, no matter what.
6. Negotiate and renegotiate the rules as age, responsibility, and needs change.
Although there are numerous theories and views on effective parenting strategies, many psychologists and clinicians agree thatauthoritative parenting commonly produces the healthiest outcomes. Authoritative parenting involves a flexible blend of following rules, of accepting responsibilities for one's behavior, and of compassionate respectful dialogue between parents and children. Structure and direction are woven into a nurturing approach. As issues surface around technology, children and parents need to deal with them openly and with meaningful accountability. Keep in mind these additional parenting strategies:
Avoid punishing your children for the online behaviors of others.
Avoid establishing rules and consequences that cannot be implemented.
Avoid over-reacting to online misbehaviors. Keep the severity of the issue in mind as you administer a consequence. Remember, it is important for children to have the opportunity to correct their behaviors and to learn from their mistakes rather than to develop a rebellious spirit towards authority.
7. Parents — model healthy behaviors with technology and obey the laws in place.
Parents, we are our children's best teachers of what to do or what not to do. We must model healthy and appropriate behaviors with technology. And we must obey the laws within our respective cities, states, and countries.
Even with safeguards in place and teaching your children to use technology in responsible meaningful ways, there are no guarantees that they will not become victims or perpetrators of cyber bullying. And, even with anti-bullying laws in 45 states, including 31 states specifying electronic harassment, only 6 states specifically include laws against cyber bullying (Patchin & Hinduja, 2011). In addition, although there are 43 states that require school policies (Patchin & Hinduja, 2011) addressing bullying and cyber bullying, many schools find themselves unable to implement such policies due to lack of resources, funding, or manpower to follow up on the viral number of violations. Therefore, instead of parents expending a great deal of energy blaming others for their lack of responsibility in addressing a cyber bullying attack, or relying solely on external sources to remedy the injury, parents need to be on the frontlines of intervention.
1. Have a safety plan in place.
Families must have a safety plan in place and it should be discussed with all family members. One of the most effective plans in response to being cyber bullied is the following (Hanel & Trolley, 2010):
Stop what you are doing. Don't respond or react to the bullying behavior.
Save the information. Do not delete. Print out a hard copy.
Share the information with an adult you can trust and who can help you make a safe decision on how to handle the situation.
Many experts suggest that children fail to report being violated online for fear of having their technology taken away or fear of retaliation. In lieu of having their technology removed or grounding children from it, parents/guardians may also do the following:
Block senders of abusive or inappropriate messages, photos, etc.
Request that the website or social networking site remove the offensive material.
If necessary, contact school personnel or legal authorities.
Change passwords when violated.
Take down profiles or remove self from online site or venue.
2. Let your children know that it is safe and necessary that they come to you (or another trusted adult) if they are cyber bullied.
It is extremely important that children do not feel alone when victimized. Research has suggested that children are reluctant to disclose being cyber bullied because nothing is done to help them even after it has been reported to an adult. Take time to talk with them about how they are feeling; help them to implement the appropriate safety measures (discussed in #2); and continue to monitor their online reputations. Parents/guardians — above all — be available and be supportive.
3. Understand the difference between web buddies and real friends.
Children today have countless numbers of online acquaintances. It often becomes difficult for them to differentiate between web buddies and real friends. With peers changing their friendship status as easily as changing a pair of shoes and with online bullying being so prevalent, it is quite confusing for children to understand what a real friend is. As parents, it is our duty to teach them about the characteristics of true friendship and of the importance of how we treat one another. Helping them to understand that real friends do not betray one another (through bullying or other means) will help children in clarifying their confusion and in moving through their hurt.
Tragically, research has also suggested that many children who do not see a difference between the real world and the cyber world find it completely natural to treat others inhumanely (Li, 2010). The thinking is that if the damaging behavior online can be acted out with limited consequences, it is permissible to do so in person. Thus, it is all the more important for parents/guardians to spend time with their children talking about the harmful effects of online and offline bullying and of the real person at the receiving end of such attacks.
4. Take advantage of counseling or support groups.
In the past several years, many young people have taken their own lives because of relentless, abusive acts of cyber bullying. It is extremely important for a child who is experiencing ongoing victimization to seek out support from a school counselor, professional therapist, or an age-appropriate support group. Victims tend to withdraw, become depressed, and feel completely lost and isolated. Parents/ guardians, do not hide behind the belief that the bullying will go away or will just get better over time. It will not.
In addition to person-to-person support, there are a couple of excellent online websites available to help and support young people who have questions about bullying or who are being targeted (Patchin & Hinduja, 2011). These sites are interactive, where children can connect with others who have experienced similar experiences:
Cyberbullying 411: www.cyberbyllying.com
Cyber Mentors: http://cybermentors.org.uk
5. Be aware of retaliation and of the relationship between victims and bullies.
In their research, Kowalski, Limber, and Agatston (2008) have shown that there is a strong relationship between traditional bullies, cyber bullies, cyber bully victims, and victims. For example, if a child is exhibiting traditional bullying behaviors, it is likely that he is also bullying others online, and he may even be a victim of cyber bullying. We also know that cyber victims frequently cross over to cyber bullying behaviors. And yet, there are times when individuals are "pure victims" or "pure bullies" with no other roles being played out. This is important information for parents/ guardians as they investigate their child's involvement in bullying behaviors and seek out effective interventions.
Regardless of a child's relationship with cyber bullying, it is never a healthy option to seek revenge or to continue the retaliation. Teaching our children how to protect and take care of themselves as well as how to treat others respectfully not only serves them, but it is a critical step toward curtailing the rampant cyber virus.
6. Continue to talk with your children, monitor activities, and negotiate or amend rules as needed.
Parents/guardians, stay involved with your children and in their relationship with technology. Don't assume that everything is alright — know that it is. Revisit your "family contract or agreement" from time to time. Make changes or additions as circumstances, age, and needs dictate. Use the topic of technology as a vehicle to stay connected to your children, to communicate with them, and to demonstrate how much you care about their worlds — real and cyber.
Even after our children have completed their driver's training, taken their driving exams, and have shown the maturity and responsibility to drive a car, these preparatory safety measures will not prevent them from being involved in an accident. This is a painful realization, but it is true. Although it is not always possible or even realistic, we, as parents/guardians, must acknowledge that the only way to absolutely prevent our children from being injured by someone or something is to never allow them access to that person or thing. It is absurd to entertain the idea of excluding technology from our society; however, we can have an honest discussion about the destructive behaviors nurtured by electronic communication, and we can learn how those behaviors are reinforced by the workings of technology. By educating ourselves about the causal factors of a cyber bulling culture, we can open our minds to healthier ways of interacting and relearning social ways of being. So, we can begin to eradicate the breeding grounds of this contagious pathogen and prevent its spread.
1. Educate yourself and your children about the relationship between technology and the individual and its impact on us as social beings.
Parents/guardians, this is extremely important. When our children communicate through any source of electronic means, they participate in an indirect relationship. In other words, they are not face to face with someone else. This dynamic of being separated from the presence of another human being creates feelings of detachment. As these feelings of detachment and disconnect take hold, two additional forces come into play: anonymity and power differential. With these two forces in play, a child is at liberty to say whatever he wants, to as many people as he likes, with no feedback as to how damaging or injurious the words may be to the victim. Over time and with repeated usage of electronic means of communication, our children's psychological makeup is indeed impacted. Studies in Singapore suggest that "technology reduces the sensitivity an individual has toward others and his/her environment." (Ang & Goh, 2010). Also, other important developmental changes include the following:
Children experience a disconnect with the real world and with real relationships (Hinduja & Patchin, 2009).
Children's behaviors become increasingly disinhibited (Dooley, Pyzalski, & Cross, 2009). Due to a lack of oversight, children feel more freedom to express themselves in inappropriate ways.
Children experience a loss of empathy for others or lack of human regard for one another (Ang & Goh, 2010).
Children begin to exhibit feelings of contempt: a sense of entitlement, intolerance toward differences, and a liberty to exclude others (Colorosso, 2008).
Children demonstrate a decline in positive social/personal interaction or in the development of healthy social skills (Ang & Goh, 2010).
Excerpted from "Cyber Bullying No More"
Copyright © 2012 Holli Kenley.
Excerpted by permission of Loving Healing Press, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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