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Pink Shirt Day 2019: putting an end to cyberbullying

Wednesday, 27 February 2019. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Pink Shirt Day 2019: putting an end to cyberbullying

Shootin' the Breeze publisher Shannon Robison is sporting a pink shirt today ... are you?

For many adults who were bullied in school, home was where they were free from their tormentors. Today’s kids aren’t so lucky; thanks to the phones, computers and tablets that are omnipresent in modern life, bullying can continue even when they’re in their own home.

This year, the Pink Shirt Day campaign is encouraging young people to think twice before posting negative things online.

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullies use social media, private messaging and online video games to send, post or share negative content about the victim. Some examples of this abuse are sharing private photos of someone with other people, spreading rumours on social media sites and via text messaging, or tricking someone into sharing information and using it against them online. 

What you can do

The most important thing you can do to protect your children from cyberbullying is to talk to them. Be a safe haven for them, a person they can talk to without fear of judgment.

With their permission, follow or “friend” them on social media so you have an idea of what they’re posting and who they’re interacting with — just don’t abuse this privilege by commenting on their posts or otherwise embarrassing them.

Keep an eye on their Internet use by putting your family’s computer in a high-traffic area of your house. Another good practice is to charge their phones and tablets in your room at night so they don’t surf the Internet when they should be sleeping.

Make sure your whole family knows the importance of privacy online; never share passwords with anyone or give personal information to people online.

Signs your child is being cyberbullied

Indicators that your child is being bullied online can include responding emotionally — with anger or sadness — to online activity, being nervous when there’s a notification on their phone or changing the amount of time they spend using their devices.

You should also be on the lookout for signs of bullying like suddenly changing their peer group, avoiding school and social gatherings, not wanting to talk to you and losing interest in hobbies.

If you think your kid is being cyberbullied, ask them about it. If they are, don’t threaten to take away their devices; one of the main reasons kids don’t tell their parents they’re being abused online is the fear of not being allowed to use the Internet.

Find a way to deal with the situation together. You’ll need to block the bullies from your kid’s social media accounts, change all of their passwords and report the abuse to their school.

Signs your child is the cyberbully

If you’ve noticed that your teen has become secretive about their online activity, or hear insults or laughter while they’re chatting or texting, they may be bullying people online.

If they are, you should explain to them that while they think they’re having fun, their actions are serious and may even be illegal. You may want to restrict their access to social media sites until they’ve proven that they won’t go back to harassing others.

There’s no excuse for cyberbullying. Children should instead use the Internet to learn, to socialize and to spread kindness.