Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cyberspace Invaders

Have you been cyberbullied? Perhaps your children have and you don’t know it.
Maybe they are too proud to tell Mom and Dad someone is messing with them online. They may not even know it is happening to them.
According to stopcyberbullying.org, “Cyberbullying” is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it is plain and simple cyber-harassment or cyberstalking. Adult cyber-harassment or cyberstalking is NEVER called cyberbullying.
Parents - it is so important you keep up with where your children are. Cyberspace is no different.
It is the job of a parent to know if your child is on MySpace or Facebook. Those sites, while useful, are also misused by teens. Know what your children are saying and what is being said to them online.
Also check out their text messages on their cell phones from time to time. It’s amazing how quickly things can get out of hand when texting is involved. Fights, sex, drug parties, etc... texting and instant messaging are how the word gets out. It takes vigilant Moms and Dads to take on these issues.
Not too many years ago, students would pass notes in class and harass each other by phone when they got home. Not any more. These tech-savvy teens can message in the blink of an eye and MySpace, Facebook and email are at their fingertips.
You may feel like you are invading the privacy of your children by checking their online habits .... DON’T! If you don’t, who will? We’re not talking about adults. We’re talking about your children.
Did you know the entire Columbine massacre could have been avoided had the parents of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold known about their online activity. Their plan to kill their classmates was there to see right on their computers.
Technology and the exposure heaped on our children have made parenting more difficult. It seems like we’re fighting an uphill battle when it comes to what our children are exposed to so the prudent thing to do is stay on top of the changes and learn their habits.
In other words, get to know your child. Talk to them. Be nosey and let them know what is right and wrong. In addition, network with other caring parents so that you can monitor cyber-conduct more closely.
All of these gizmos and technology do have their place. But like most good things, they can be used for bad. It’s our job as responsible parents to make sure our children are protected and behaving as they should whether that be in the real world or the cyber one.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2009

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