Over the last few months, we have spent more time at home and even more time online. From work transitioning online to socializing with friends virtually, most of us have learned how to adapt our lives to social distancing standards. Unfortunately, bullies have changed as well, and while the internet can provide lots of great educational resources, it also offers easy access for bullies to target others. The more time kids spend online, the higher the risk of being bullied. That, combined with the stress of being confined at home, can have a significant effect on their mental health and well-being.
As children stay home to continue social distancing during the school year, knowing how they spend their time online is critical to ensuring their safety. Before you hand your kids a device, take time to review and learn the parental controls offered. Check-in with them frequently and talk about their experience online. Make sure your kids know where to find and how to use the block function on social media and other applications. Ask that they use their device out in the open, such as a family room or kitchen. It’s critical to pay attention and look for signs that your child may be being bullied such as:
- Becoming withdrawn and isolated from the rest of the family
- Decreased self-esteem and increased self-deprecating language
- Obsessive behavior on social media platforms
- Significant changes in sleeping and eating patterns
- Heightened talk of hopelessness and feeling alone
Having a good communication base and continually reminding your child that they can always come to you for help can go a long way when dealing with an online bully. Finally, it’s just as important to remind kids about proper online etiquette and emphasize that bullying others is unacceptable and can be just as harmful online as it is in person.
To learn more about internet safety for your family visit, MaricopaCountyAttorney.org/InternetSafety