Angelbeat is increasingly involved with anti-cyberbullying campaigns, as IT directors at K12 schools around the country rely upon our expertise in an age of budgetary constraints and growing on-line dangers. As a parent with three children, this subject has great personal relevance to me.
Cyber-bullying is much more dangerous than “traditional” bullying because it is instantaneous, can go viral without geographic limitations, presents no immediate risk to the perpetrator who operates behind the cloak of on-line anonymity – and can lead to a physical confrontation.
Parents and their children, combined with school, government and law enforcement officials, must all work together to address this growing threat. Here is a summary of my recommendations for them, delivered during my keynote presentation to the Rockville Centre, New York school district.
Parents must assume the role of Chief Information Officer (CIO) of their home. It is unacceptable for parents to say, “my kids know more than me”. Mothers and Fathers must spend as much time understanding web filtering software, reading text logs, managing passwords for all accounts, setting up their home wireless access, monitoring facebook accounts, etc. as they do on tutoring, coaching, carpooling, etc. A child’s first game console and then first cell phone must be a significant rite-of-passage – given as much importance as getting a drivers’ license/car. If your child sets up his/her own gmail email account and/or purchases a pre-paid cell phone without parental permission, then this must be treated the same as purchasing/using illegal drugs or shoplifting from a store, with the same dire consequences. We as IT professionals should and must help our friends become more IT savvy, because it will make the entire community safer.
Children in turn can contribute to the end of cyberbullying. Teach them to only post information on email, texts and social media sites including facebook, twitter, instragram, etc. that they would feel comfortably in sharing face-to-face. If they see another child posting malicious content online, then they must tell both you and their teacher, just as they would tell the principal if a “regular” bully tried to steal their lunch money. Kids must stand up against bullying, whether it is physical or virtual.