Cyber Safe Parenting
Research has shown that cyber bullying usually begins on home computers and on private cell phones. Students bring their resulting fear, embarrassment, anger, and aggression to school. Thus, students, families, schools, and the surrounding communities are affected. All of these entities must be considered and included when working to address the problems of bullies, victims, and bystanders.
Because cyber bullying often begins on family computers and students’ personal cell phones, parents must be vigilant with their monitoring efforts. Parental vigilance is paramount, because inappropriate text messages, e-mails, and postings on Web sites and in chat rooms usually do not occur on school property. Parents and teachers must talk with students about the dangers of cyber bullying, and take action immediately if it occurs.
Positive parenting can preempt cyber bullying. Ybarra and Mitchell (2004) emphasized the importance of parent-child relationships in their discussion of findings from the Youth Internet Safety Survey. “Indeed, general monitoring and positive caregiver-child relationships may be more important factors in Internet safety[,] as global parental monitoring is significantly related to a decrease in the likelihood of being an online aggressor”.
Jeff Chu, in his 2005 Time article, offered the following guidelines for parents.
- Learn — Know how to use the Internet yourself.
- Be aware — Know if your child has a Xanga (online diary or journal) [or blog, MySpace, or other personal site], visits chat rooms, or uses instant messaging.
- Talk — Keep the lines of communication open with your children so they feel comfortable telling you about any threatening or upsetting online situations.
- Teach — Be sure your child knows how to be courteous online. Rudeness is not acceptable, online or offline.
- Trust — Inform your children that you will be checking their e-mail, if you feel that this is important. Do not “snoop” without their permission.
Teaching appropriate and responsible Internet use is part of good parenting. Parents who use a democratic approach are informed, fair, and consistent, and communicate openly with their children. They apply these same qualities to expectations regarding Internet use.