Bullying when I was at school was horrible. Many of us have been victims. Some of us, shamefully, admit that at times we were perpetrators.
For the most part, bullying pre digital age happened during school hours and in social situations.
But when we got home, it was (hopefully) a sanctuary where the cruel words and violence couldn’t get to us.
Sadly, that is no longer the case.
Cyber bullying is, unfortunately, an issue many of us will face with our kids as they get older (and some of us will face in our own personal or work lives).
Whether it’s the victims or culprits, the impact of cyber bullying is enormous. The issue is looming large on all parents of children who are coming to an age where they will be curious about social media.
Kids as young as five or six are badgering their parents for social media accounts without any idea of the consequences. It’s never to early to start teaching our kids about online safety.
It’s not all doom and gloom. Social media can be a fantastic tool for kids to share stories, hobbies, photos, music and a great way to stay connected with family and friends.
And social media is not going away.
So we need to arm our kids with tools to make them resilient and cyber smart as well as teaching them empathy and the ability to understand the ramifications of their actions. One little picture or ‘joke’ uploaded can have a devastating impact.
The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner urges all parents to start talking to their kids about cyber bullying and what to do if they are targeted.
They have created a series of incredibly powerful videos addressing the issues surrounding cyberbullying called #rewriteyourstory
The videos are dramatisations of online bullying scenarios and they are utterly heartbreaking and eye opening; a must for any parent to watch with their kids.
The themes include posting intimate photos without consent, creating cruel material and taunting and abusing peers via social media.
These are all investigable offences and the eSafety commission takes complaints very seriously.
The videos are short, interesting and informative – perfect to watch with children. They are an amazing insight into what kids experience in day to day life in this digital age.
As parents, we need to get up to speed with how our kids are interacting online, and how they will use social media when they are older. We need to know the sites they are using, the risks involved and what to do if something goes wrong.
So, what can the eSafety Commission offer your family in terms of cyberbullying and other online issues? They want to offer support, reward courage, empower victims and provide guidance so online bullying can be prevented and tackled head on.
There are some excellent resources for parents about protecting our digital lifestyle and taking steps to keep our families safe.