Tena koutou katoa. Nga mihi nui atawhai.
Do we, as parents, know what our young people are experiencing online? Do we know how they interact with each other? Do they communicate with each other differently, depending on whether it is face to face or online? Is the way that they communicate with each other online building healthy relationships or creating harm for others?
Netsafe can help us to find answers to these questions. Netsafe is NZ’s independent, non-profit, online safety organisation which provides online safety support, expertise and education for parents, young people and educators. Link to Netsafe
One area that I would like to focus on this week is online bullying. Netsafe states that ‘One in five young people in New Zealand have been the target of online bullying* – it can happen to anyone, and it can be hard for parents to deal with’.
It’s important that we all have the same understanding of what bullying is. Netsafe’s definition is that: Online bullying (also known as cyberbullying) is when a person uses digital technology to send, post or publish content with the intention to harm another person or a group. This behaviour is often aggressive, is repeated and involves some kind of power imbalance between the people involved.
Online bullying can take many forms:
- name calling online
- repeated unwanted online messages
- spreading rumours or lies
- fake accounts used to harass people
- excluding people from social activities
- embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles
Is Your Child Being Bullied Online?
Each case of online bullying is different and each child will respond differently to bullying – behaviour that deeply affects one child may be water off a duck’s back to another. There’s no fool-proof way to tell if your child is being bullied online, but if you think they might be, try asking them about it in a non-confrontational way.
What To Do If Your Child Is Being Bullied
Stay calm: Your child needs to be able to talk to you and know that you’ll be level headed, thoughtful and helpful in your response.
Evaluate the situation: It’s important to know exactly what’s going on before you can work out what to do next. Is it a few off hand remarks, or is it something more serious?
Understand how your child is being affected: If your child is upset about a situation, let them know that you understand and it’s OK to be upset.
Don’t take away the technology: Taking away your child’s laptop or mobile phone can alienate them from their most important support network – their peers.
Work through a plan together: If you need help about what you can do next email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0508 NETSAFE 0508 638 723 seven days a week.
And, helpfully, there is an online ‘Report Harmful Content’ form you can use to report online material you are concerned about: Link to Report Harm form