If you are old enough to remember the G.I. Joe cartoons from the mid 80s, then you probably remember the public service announcements that were included in them. The lesson taught in every one of them was that, “knowing is half the battle.”
Previously, I’d written two articles about what clichés can teach us about using social media safely. The first article can be viewed by clicking here and the second one by clicking here. Of all of the clichés that I included, perhaps the most appropriate one is one that I modified to read, “An ounce of prevention is worth an immeasurable amount of cure.”
The truth is that there is no silver bullet that will keep your kids safe from inappropriate or dangerous content online. I wish that there was, because I’d make sure that everyone had it. You might conclude then, that the best option is to avoid online activity altogether. That’s not an option either.
Ignorance is Not Bliss
Imagine how easy it would be for the police to stop crime if they knew when and where criminals were going to strike. They’d be waiting for the bad guys. Eventually, the bad guys wouldn’t even bother to try to commit a crime, knowing that the police would be waiting for them. Now apply that concept to online behavior.
Many cyberbullies attack others because they figure that they won’t get caught, especially considering the amount of sites that let people post things anonymously where tracking down the aggressor is almost impossible to do without serious help from law enforcement.
By finding out about what’s happening, people are able to counter the negativity. In some cases, it may be a simple misunderstanding. In other cases, it won’t be. In that case, you need to know what to do next. I have several recommendations on what to do if your child is ever being bullied online. My personal favorite is the concept of Positive Slamming, which involves getting others to stand up for the target. It can do a lot to help that person feel better.
One of the best ways to find out what is being said about your child online is to create an online alert system. There are two good sites that can do this for you. The first is to use Google’s Alert site. More people may prefer this site because of their familiarity with Google over the other option – Social Mention. Both can scan the Internet for you and send automatic emails when certain keyword criteria are found.
Technology is here to Stay!
Computers are not going away anytime soon. To deny someone the ability to use them will only harm a person.
First, it lets the bully win and can make the victim feel powerless. Is that the lesson that our children should learn? If your child is ever victimized, please do not take away or restrict the use of their computers or mobile devices. It can make them feel as though they did something wrong and make it less likely that they will ever tell you about something like that again.
Also consider that children don’t always listen to what their parents tell them to do, so they may go online anyway. If they do that and more trouble occurs, it is virtually assured that they will not come to them for help, for fear of getting into trouble for disobeying them.
Second, social media is fun! Don’t deprive them of the opportunity to enjoy it. If they wish to take a time-out after an event happens, let them. They will return when they’re ready to do so.
Finally, computer skills of all types are good to have. Preventing someone from using a computer or even social media could make an impact on their life down the line that may not be foreseeable in the present. Maybe they will become a cyber advocate and help others. We need more people like that, for sure!