Cyberbullying and Internet Safety

Cyberbullying and Internet Safety

Preteens and teens are leading digital livesSocial networking, which includes creating and uploading comments (blogs, videos, pictures), downloading music and other files, researching subjects for school, chatting on IMvideo-chatting, and more, is very important to many of our youth today.

At this age, the Internet is no longer a solitary or passive experience. For preteens and teens, the Internet is social. Teens are using the Internet to express themselves and to experiment anonymously with different identities. While the desire to strike out on their own is age-appropriate, these kids still need parental guidance on how to conduct themselves safely online.

Tragic stories of cyberbullying seem to be a daily news staple in today's world. While cyberbullying can devastate kids and families, news stories often focus on the worst cases. What's missing is a full picture of the cyberbullying environment. Unlike a playground brawl in which a bully targets one victim, cyberbullying is often a group undertaking, with an entire network of kids participating. Kids play different roles: bullies, victims, bystanders, and upstanders. This means that broad-stroke solutions to cyberbullying, like telling your kids to get off Facebook or making them give up their cell phones, won't work. Online communication tools are part of the fabric of teens' lives. It also means families might need to accept that even if their child is being victimized, he or she may not always have acted appropriately online. Our tips can help prevent, protect, and deal with cyberbullying, regardless of the role your child has played. (Find more cyberbullying tips for all ages.)

Essential tips for parents:

Teach your kids empathy. Nothing drives home a point faster than walking a mile in someone else's shoes. If your kids truly understand what someone else is going through, they're less likely to bully someone.

Help kids understand the line between funny and cruel. Kid's online communication is often purposely ambiguous or accidentally cruel - both of which can lead to misunderstandings. If drama is brewing, ask your kid to call or speak face to face with their friend to clear it up.

Make sure they talk to someone (even if it's not you). As kids enter the middle school years, their circle of friends and trusted adults widens. Kids need a responsible adult to confide in - their school counselor, their music teacher, even the parent of a friend. Talk to your kid about who they can go to if trouble is brewing.

Help your kid be an upstander, not a bystander. Kids are hesitant to get involved, fearing that the bully will turn their sights on them. But there are safe ways your kid can help: reaching out to the victim, getting an adult involved, and not participating in the bullying behavior. 

Show your child how to stop it. Tell kids not to respond or retaliate. Not feeding the bully can stop the cycle. And, if anything does happen, save the evidence.

Cyberbullying Parent Presentation

Cyberbullying can have real negative and potentially long-lasting consequences
on a child's life. This twenty-five minute video will help you learn what cyberbullying is,
the impact it can have on people, and how to protect your child from cyberbullying.
Together we can help our children make good choices.

Internet Safety Tips

  • Never share names, schools, ages, phone numbers, or addresses.
  • Never open an email from a stranger, it may contain viruses that can harm a computer.
  • Never send pictures to strangers or view pictures that strangers send to you.
  • Keep passwords private (except to parents).
  • Tell a trusted adult if something mean or creepy happens on the Internet.

Strategies for a responsible and safer online life:

  • Visit age-appropriate sites. Find sites that promote learning, creativity, and that deepen your kids' interests. Also check out popular web sites before your kids visit them. Despite what your kids might tell you, social networks like MySpace or Facebook are not meant for preteens.

  • Minimize chatting with strangers. Tell your kids that people aren't always who they say they are on the Internet. Anyone can pose as a "buddy of a buddy." If kids are playing online games with people they don't personally know, they should be careful not to disclose personal information.

  • Help kids think critically about what they find online. Young people need to know not everything they see is true. You may wish to use safe-search settings or filtering software for younger kids. And you can always check browser histories to see where your kids have been.

  • If they wouldn't do it in real life, they shouldn't do it online. Remind them: Don't say mean things, and don't cheat in games or at school.

  • Have some rules about time and place. Set limits on the amount of time your kids spend online. Don't let them Instant Message (IM) while doing homework. Restrict time and sites for online gaming.

  • Agree on downloads. What music is okay? Which video sites? Don't just hand out your credit card information to your kids. If they need to buy something, you should be involved.

  • Talk about privacy. Remind your kids that when you post something online, they lose control of it. It can be cut and pasted and sent around the web. Show kids where privacy settings are on their favorite sites and help them think about the settings they should use.

  • Make sure kids feel safe reporting bad behavior. It doesn't have to be you, but if anything suspicious, mean, or scary happens, they need to know they won't get in trouble if they tell a trusted adult.

  • Be involved and view your own habits carefully. Parents are their role models for safe and smart use. Enjoy the good stuff together!

All the information provided on this page was cited from Common Sense Media Inc. Please visit their site for more helpful information and tools on media, technology and kids at This link is a third party website that is not hosted or endorsed by the Lee County School District.