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How to Protect Your Child from Cyberbullying

Tips for keeping your child safe online

As a parent, you already feel immense pressure to protect your child from any physical dangers they may encounter in their youth, so it can feel overwhelming trying to protect your child from online threats as well.

Unlike past generations, most of Generation Z (1996–2010) and Generation Alpha (2010–2025) have no concept of life without the internet. They were born in an era of constantly-evolving technology and have basically unfettered access to information, online resources, social media sites, and more.

No matter the generation, kids can be cruel, and being a victim of bullying can cause long-lasting effects on a child’s emotional development.  Cyberbullying allows children to “hide” behind a screen, which emboldens them to say and do hurtful things they may not have the audacity to say or do in person. The internet also enables cruel and harmful content (e.g. messages, photos, videos) to be shared easily and spread quickly.

To help keep your child safe online and protect them from cyberbullying, here are a few tips to consider:

1. Make sure your child is ready to use the internet

With countless online games, learning tools, and even virtual school lessons, kids are starting to utilize the internet at younger ages. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 94% of American children ages 3 to 18 have a computer at home and 61% have internet access at home.

Just because it’s common for young children to have access to the internet, and even though it’s extremely easy to find interactive devices that use the internet, doesn’t mean your child is ready to be online. Make sure your child is mature enough to use the internet safely and respectfully. Set rules and limits around the internet, and check the privacy settings on the devices and apps your child is using.

2. Connect with them online

Learn how social media sites like TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter work. Make your own accounts and connect with them on these apps so you can see what they’re posting and with whom they’re interacting online. The more you understand the technology your child is using, the better informed you are on how they should and should not be using it.

3. Teach them online etiquette

Make sure your child knows the basic rules of the internet, such as: don’t talk to strangers online, don’t give out any personal information, don’t forward mean or hurtful messages, use strong passwords, don’t give others your login info, etc.

It’s also very important that your child understands that once something is posted online, it’s there forever. This might seem like a hyperbolic statement, but with screenshots, screen recordings, and how data is stored online, it’s extremely difficult to fully erase something that’s been posted. Teach them to be mindful, intentional, and kind online. Explain to them that they shouldn’t post or share inappropriate, derogatory, or harmful photos or messages.

4. Foster an environment of trust and honesty

When establishing rules and time limits, discuss them with your child and take their suggestions into consideration. Kids are more likely to follow rules if they’re involved in setting them.

Be open about online risks and your fears as a parent. Remind them that they can be honest with you and come to you for help if they ever encounter anything upsetting online. If they feel awkward discussing these issues with you, encourage them to talk to another adult that you both trust.

5. Know how to respond to cyberbullying

If your child becomes a victim of cyberbullying, the first thing to do is reassure them that you love them and that you’ll get through it together. After comforting your child, make sure to take screenshots, save messages, and compile all evidence of cyberbullying so you have proof if needed. Neither you nor your child should respond to a cyberbully. Talk to your child’s school about their protocol for handling bullying, and go from there. Consider taking your child to a mental health professional if they need additional support.

Review your coverage

These are just a few strategies to help get parents started. We encourage you to explore additional tools and topics to decide how best to support your child. Make sure you have insurance coverage that can help protect your family and provide your child with any resources they may need, such as counseling. Our experienced professionals are here to help ensure you have the right amount of insurance coverage in place for your unique situation. Get in touch with your McGriff broker today if you have any questions.

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© 2021 McGriff Insurance Services, Inc. All rights reserved. McGriff Insurance Services, Inc. is a subsidiary of Truist Insurance Holdings, Inc. The information, analyses, opinions and/or recommendations contained herein relating to the impact or the potential impact of coronavirus/COVID-19 on insurance coverage or any insurance policy is not a legal opinion, warranty or guarantee, and should not be relied upon as such. This communication is intended for informational use only. Given the on-going and constantly changing situation with respect to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, this communication does not necessarily reflect the latest information regarding recently-enacted, pending or proposed legislation or guidance that could override, alter or otherwise affect existing insurance coverage.

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