New technologies have many positive benefits for your children, from developing crucial IT skills to providing a source of entertainment and fun.
Unfortunately, the internet, mobiles and other devices have also created a new channel for bullying. Known as cyberbullying, this can be extremely upsetting for children and teenagers – especially as the scale, speed and 24/7 nature of the digital world means it can take place anywhere and at any time. Cyberbullying could therefore be a major concern when you’re considering your child’s online safety.
Bullies are using new technologies to make threats, intimidate, harass, defame and exclude young people and, in some cases, to impersonate them or steal their identity. Some of the most common cyberbullying methods are:
• Text bullying – your child might receive nasty or threatening text messages
• Nuisance/prank calls – someone might call your child persistently on their mobile and say nasty things to them
• Publishing and sharing images without your child’s permission – photos, videos or webcam footage of your child could be circulated via email or text, posted online, or tagged with their name on a public website
• “Happy slapping” – cyberbullies might use their mobiles to take photos or videos of your child while they verbally or physically abuse them
• Email and Instant Message (IM) bullying – your child might receive nasty or threatening emails or IMs from someone they know or a stranger
• Chat room bullying – a fellow chat room user might say rude things to, or about, your child
• Cyberbullying via a social network – someone might post nasty messages about your child on a site such as Bebo, Facebook or MySpace, or set up a fake profile about them
• Bullying during interactive gaming – if your child plays multi-player games, a fellow gamer might try to block or ignore them. Research shows that this kind of online ostracism can have an impact on self-esteem