Another pre-teen girl has committed suicide due to cyberbulling. I am weary of hearing heartbreaking, horrifying news like this. I am disgusted at how easily we "normalize" what is destroying us and don't take responsibility for what we can do. I usually do not write a blog on Wednesdays, but could not resist this "special edition".CyberBullying is harming your children.
#1. Don’t have a TV or computer in your kid’s bedroom. You are being naive and irresponsible if you do. Have it in a very shared "traffic" space. Look at what they are doing. Often.
#2. Please realize that unlimited, unsupervised social media is not a "right" for children, nor is it good for them.
#3. Please realize that unlimited texting is not a "right" for children, nor is it good for them. They should not have it. Learning to have limits and prioritize what is important is something they are supposed to be learning during these years.
#4. Please realize that you are not "invading their privacy" when you expect to be able to monitor online accounts, text messages, computer history, etc. It has always been a parental responsibility to be aware of where your kid is spending their time and with whom they are spending it. In today's world, cyber activity is included in that. Talk to your kids about cyberbullying.
#5. Just because they are quiet and not disrupting your life does not mean everything is OK. They are not being quiet online. If you think that you "would know" if your kid was involved in troublesome behavior you are deluding yourself. Trust me. As a psychotherapist for 20+ years I have seen some of the most charming and "successful" kids involved in some very disturbing, dark, unhealthy, illegal and dangerous behavior. Talk to them. Often. Spend time with them. A lot. Monitor them. Often.
#6. Use blocking software. Randomly check computer history, texting history, etc.
#7. Your kids are smarter about technology than you might be. Learn what you need to learn. Stand up to Cyberbullyingand Common Sense: Digital Citizenship Resources for Parents
#8. Demand that cell phones are turned off at meal times and not taken out and checked when people are in conversation with each other. I know a woman who has a basket by her front door and collects cell phones as people enter! Consider collecting your kid's phone at a certain time each evening and returning it the next day. There are new psychological disorders developing called "Internet Use Disorder" and "Internet Gaming Disorder". Children develop a deep discomfort and anxiety to be without access to the media. A compulsion to keep checking it develops. There is a dramatic increase in sleep disorders among our children. Social skills and civility are plummeting. They are having difficulty turning off their computers and cell phones. You need to step in and help them.
#9. If your kid won't cooperate with your need to be a responsible parent, give them a technology "time out." You pay the bills. You own the modem. They will be mad? Do your job anyway.
#10. Are you aware that there has been an astronomical rise in anxiety, depression and sense of loneliness in our youth and that research is pointing to social media as a probable cause? Cyberbullying is part of that problem.
#11. Institute a weekly "cyber holiday". Unplug the modem a day a week & confiscate phones so your children can develop a relationship with themselves and be given a break from the tyranny of technology.
#12. Take responsibility for the images and information that are streaming into (and out of!) your house. Do not shrug this off as "unrealistic". Do not surrender to "Reality TV" as your reality. We are allowing non-stop violence, vulgarity, bitchiness and narcissism into our homes.
If this behavior knocked on your door, you would call the police. Why do you allow your children to engage in it as entertainment?Please. Take a stand. Raise the bar. Fight for our children.