Be aware of your child’s online activities and watch out for early signs of bullying type behavior in young children. Discuss issues as soon as they arise, set behavioral boundaries and impose restrictions where necessary.
Encourage your child to learn more about online social etiquette known as “netiquette.” This can help them understand how real life social boundaries should be followed online. Learn more in our guide to netiquette.
Older children can react badly if parents impose restrictions, so discuss things first. Mention that you are concerned people may regard them as being a bully. Children are often unaware of the distress their online behavior can cause, and talking this through can help change their perspective.
Talk to your child about empathy and the importance of understanding that what we say and do has an impact on how other people feel. A great way of educating your child about empathy and making it fun is to go through emoticons used online and ask them to show you which ones should be used to convey the feeling after each of your pre-formed sentences – designed for multiple answers including sad, happy, funny, angry and any other emotions that you want to include.
People demonstrating bullying type behavior need help as much as the targets of bullying – often they have been bullied themselves at some point. Try and keep calm and remember that there is help available to you and your child and there are also solutions. Your child probably has no idea that their online behavior is causing harm or distress to others. Explore our advice section titled ‘Is my child a cyberbully?‘ to learn more about the signs and symptoms related to bullying online.