Today is Pink Shirt Day, encouraging everyone to speak out against bullying. Bullying increasingly happens online. In 2017, Norton released research showing only 10 per cent of Kiwi parents reported that their children were being cyberbullied. It is hard to know what to do if your child is the bully. Most people have some experience dealing with bullies in real life and online, but most don’t know that cyberbullying is more than sending threatening or nasty messages to a classmate, it can also include making fake profiles – whether to impersonate or catfish.
If New Zealand children are being bullied – New Zealand children must be bullying too. How do you make sure your children are behaving online? Norton has some tips to help Kiwi parents talk about cyberbullying and how to keep your children safe online and discourage them from engaging in cyberbullying:
• Set your family netiquette: Establish a set of guidelines for how your children use technology, also known as online etiquette. These guidelines may include how much time they spend online, the websites that are safe to use or what language is appropriate when chatting.
• Establish clear boundaries and open communication: Create a set of House Rules for children’s online communication, downloading, websites they visit, and cyber harassment. A decrease in negative online experiences is closely linked to households where there is an open dialogue with children about online safety.
• Highlight the risks: Discuss the risks of posting and sharing private information, videos, and photographs, especially on social media websites. Everything posted online is a digital footprint for children and can be challenging to completely erase. Parents should help children avoid posting content that will compromise their security or which they may regret when they are older.
• Walk the talk: Children are likely to imitate their parents’ behaviour, so parents are encouraged to lead by example and show their children how to safely surf online.
• Encourage kids to think before they click: Whether they are browsing online videos, receiving an unknown link in an email or encountering banners/pop-ups while surfing the web, remind your children not to click on links that may take them to dangerous or inappropriate sites. Clicking unknown links is a common way to infect device with malware and can reveal private and valuable information to criminals.
• Protect: Use a robust and trusted security software solution, such as Norton Security, for all household devices – from tablets to smartphones, laptops and desktops.
• Communicate: Most importantly, encourage and maintain a constant dialogue with your children on internet use and experiences.
• Remind them that cyberbullying is against the law. While the nitty gritty will be lost on kids, parents should know, the Harmful Digital Communications Act (HDCA) has 10 principles of what a digital communication should not include such as not encouraging others to send deliberately harmful messages. The penalty for breaking the HDCA is up to six months in prison or a fine of up to $5,000.
• Educate: Teach young children to use strong and unique passwords across all their accounts and never to share passwords, even with their friends. Direct them to fun and engaging educational materials such as this online safety quiz; from the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, a Kiwi not-for-profit.
Visit Netsafe’s website for access to its free resources. Netsafe is the appointed agency to assist with complaints made under the HDCA. Its website also has information about conducting safe online relationships.