Cyberbullying is a recurring problem and a topic of great concern among parents. To face it, it is important to educate yourself on the subject and stay informed about the trends and risks to which children and adolescents are exposed through social networks.
The data speaks for itself: According to a study by the European Parliament, children aged 9 to 10 are more likely to be bullied on gaming websites, while teenagers aged 13 to 16 are more likely to be affected by cyberbullying on social networks. In Chile, the Survey of Cyberbullying and Mental Health in adolescents and young adults (2022) showed that 49% of respondents said they had suffered cyberbullying at some time within the last 3 months.
Despite the alarming nature of these data, we should avoid falling into the extreme of demonizing social networks, as they have also been consolidated as a space for social interaction, expanding opportunities to connect with family, friends and acquaintances around a common topic.
The balance should aim to take care of the information that is shared and be clear about who you interact with, in addition to taking the time to know how these tools work. There are some considerations that parents can agree with their children:
Keep social networks private.
Do not add on social networks or engage in conversations with strangers.
Do not give out private information such as age, address, phone number, school or neighborhood in which you live.
Never share intimate or private content of any kind, least of all to strangers.
If you want to have a public profile, do not share surnames, places you frequent or less personal data.
Alert parents if someone is harassing or bothering them, regardless of whether they are a known person or not. Many times cyberbullying comes from the same peers.
As for parents, there are many actions that can be taken to monitor and protect children and adolescents, which allow alerts to be raised in time in case of risk:
Know the social networks your children use: use them, find out what they are about and the reach they have. Read about new trends and new networks.
Avoid prohibiting them, because it is better for children to have monitored profiles and avoid using secret accounts, which could increase the risk of grooming or cyberbullying.
Maintain an open and sincere dialogue, so that they feel safe and confident to share their experiences.
Encourage privacy and responsible use of technology in their homes, setting clear boundaries and monitoring their children’s use of mobile devices and social media.
In the case of the little ones, check the YouTube search history, as it will allow them to know what they are interested in. Using parental control tools is useful to take care of the content they can access.
Raise awareness about the notion of anonymity when interacting through social networks or online games. A profile does not necessarily reflect the user’s reality.
Online games include chat conversation, an environment in which people of all ages come together. A place where you also have to be alert and attentive. Above all, with the youngest children, who still do not have social networks.
Cyberbullying and grooming are serious problems, which can have serious consequences on people’s lives, especially in children and adolescents. It is essential that parents inform and educate themselves about the risks associated with social networks and communicate with their children in an open and reliable way, encouraging the responsible use of technology.
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The content expressed in this opinion column is the sole responsibility of its author, and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of El Mostrador.