Today’s kids use technology more than ever. While technology can be a great tool to communicate, learn, and socialize, it can also be used in harmful ways, and allow some kids to take bullying from school hallways into cyberspace. Cyberbullying happens when kids bully each other through electronic technology, including sending mean text messages, posting embarrassing photos on social networking sites, or creating fake profiles of another individual. Parents can help reduce these risks by talking to kids about how to be good online citizens and how to make safe, responsible decisions when using technology.
The federal government has a website, OnGuardOnline.gov, to help you be safe online. Created by the Federal Trade Commission, the site’s purpose is to address issues that may arise when using technology and prevent them before they start. The site includes information for parents, educators, and others to help youth prevent cyberbullying and other issues that happen through technology. These resources are available both as downloads and many can also be ordered as hard-copies through FTC’s bulk order site.Specific to cyberbullying, resources include:
- Stand Up to Cyberbullying, a short video for kids that explains what cyberbullying is, what to know about it, and what kids can do to stop the harassment. This is just one of the many videos available on the site on how to be safe and responsible online.
- The Net Cetera Community Outreach toolkit gives tools and materials to plan community events around kids’ online safety. It covers topics such as cyberbullying, sexting, consequences of online actions, good online and cell phone etiquette, and protecting your computer. Specifically, the kit includes:
- Net Cetera — a guide to help adults start the conversation with kids about being safe online
- Heads Up — a guide to help kids protect themselves and their reputations when they’re socializing online
- PowerPoint presentation slides
- DVD with five videos
Another popular resource to share with kids is Living Life Online. This magazine-style booklet is designed to help tweens sharpen their critical thinking skills, be better digital citizens, and understand the advertising they see around them.
The key to preventing cyberbullying is education and we hope these resources will be useful to helping kids be safe online. OnGuardOnline is continually being updated with new resources.