Bullying is hardly a new phenomenon, but the increasing use of social media has made it harder than ever for kids to escape.
Whether you’re living in a luxury condo and sending your kids to private school or sending them to public school in the country, bullying is following our kids home, thanks to social media. With so many social media platforms for kids to tease their peers on, it’s no wonder that up to 43 percent of kids admit to being cyberbullied at some point. While ending bullying for good may take time, there’s one simple way to get things moving in the right direction: teaching your kids about social media bullying and stopping it before it starts. Here’s how:
Talk to them: The first step in creating healthy boundaries and an open dialogue surrounding bullying is talking to your kids. Ask them about times they’ve felt bullied, or ask if they’ve ever felt the urge to bully someone else over social media, and why. When you know why the bullying is happening, it’s easier to nip it in the bud.
Set clear ground rules: Don’t be afraid to make your rules about social media bullying clear. Let them know that you trust them to use social media responsibly, and draw hard lines about what is appropriate to post and what’s not.
Put time limits on their social media use: Even kids who aren’t prone to bullying can get the urge to do so if they find themselves bored and online. To limit the chances that your kid will bully a classmate online, give them specific times when they’re allowed on social media, or only allow them to use their phones or laptops in common areas of your home.
Show them the effects of bullying: Don’t be afraid to get real with your kids about the life-and-death consequences of bullying. Let them know that kids are actually dying because of bullying, and ask them to commit to not doing it to their peers.
Give them real consequences for their actions: Let your kids know that you have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying in your home. If they’re caught bullying someone on social media, take their devices away until they’ve made adequate reparations for the damage they’ve done. And don’t be afraid to let them know that there could be legal consequences to their actions, as well.
Bullying doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of growing up. In fact, parents have more say in what goes on in their children’s social lives than they might expect. Luckily, armed with the right tools, the desire to learn, and plenty of patience, you can keep your kids from bullying others over social media.