As communication technologies have become so widespread, cyberbullying can happen any time, anywhere with the result that, for many children, the home is no longer a guaranteed safe haven from bullying. You must therefore be extra vigilant in identifying and dealing with any incidents of cyberbullying which may be happening under your roof.
1. Establish that cyberbullying is taking place.
2. Provide support at home
· The best thing you can do to keep your child safe online is to engage with what they do. Know your child’s internet and phone use – encourage your child to show you which websites they like visiting and what they do there.
· Talk to your child about the informal ethical rules for how to behave when relating to others on the internet so they understand about the effects of cyberbullying. Let your child know that you are there to listen and help if they are being victimised in this way.
· If you are concerned that your child has received a bullying, offensive or harassing message, it is very important that you encourage them to talk to you. Responding to a negative experience by stopping their access to mobile phones or the internet might mean that you get left out of the loop should this happen again.
· Register as a contact on your child’s phone – mobile operators in Ireland provide a ‘dual access’ service which allows both parent and child to have access to account balances, numbers called and services available on the phone. Access to the internet may be barred or restricted on your child’s handset if so desired. Contact your mobile phone provider for more information.
3. Get help from the school
· You can also suggest that the school run an internet safety seminar for parents, developed by the National Centre for Technology in Education and National Parents Council. For further information, visit www.npc.ie.