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Raising our Voices against Cyberbullying

by Brian Cody

NortonLifeLock Celebrates Safer Internet Day by Uniting for a Better Internet.

Sad. Freak. Crybaby. Loser. 

These words all sound pretty harsh, right? They do not feel very good to read here, but imagine them directed at you personally. In the world of child and teen online activity, these types of words can become all too familiar to the millions of children cyberbullied each year around the world.   

In the UK, fifty per cent of adolescents have been bullied, with six out of 10 of these victims of cyberbullying . More than 1 in 5 (22%) of 8-17 year olds report that someone has posted an image or video to bully them . According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, in the United States the percentages of individuals who have experienced cyberbullying at some point in their lifetimes has nearly doubled (19% to 34%) from 2007-2016.

Furthermore, the Norton Cyber Security Insights Report , a survey of nearly 21,000 consumers globally, shows that nearly half (48 percent) of parents believe their children are more likely to be bullied online than at school in the playground. While the majority of parents implement proactive measures to keep their children safe online, such as limiting access to certain websites and apps (43 percent) or allowing Internet access only under parental supervision (40 percent), more than 1 in 10 (11 percent) do nothing.

This year, as part of Safer Internet Day, Norton wants to help parents stop cyberbullying in its tracks through a campaign encouraging individuals and communities to #RaiseOurVoices against cyberbullying. In Norton’s free e-book “Cyberbullying – A Conversation Guide for Parents and Kids”, the company provides parents and kids guidance on how to identify the signs of cyberbullying, empower themselves to start a conversation with their children and establish “netiquette” when the time is right.

According to the guide, some notable signs of cyberbullying amongst children include:

  • Appearing nervous when receiving a text/online message or email or begin avoiding their devices or using them excessively

  • Making excuses to avoid going to school, acting up at school or their grades begin to decline

  • Becoming defensive or secretive about online activity or deleting social media accounts

  • Withdrawing from friends and family

  • Physical symptoms such as trouble sleeping, stomach aches, headaches, and weight loss or gain

  • Appearing particularly angry, frustrated or sad, especially after going online/checking devices

So how can parents keep their children safe online to avoid and discourage engagement in cyberbullying?

  1. Set your family netiquette: Establish a set of guidelines for how your children use technology, also known as online etiquette. These guidelines may include how much time they spend online, the websites that are safe to use or what language is appropriate when chatting.

  2. Establish clear boundaries and open communication: Create a set of House Rules for children’s online communication, downloading, websites they visit, and cyber harassment. A decrease in negative online experiences is closely linked to households where there is an open dialogue with children about online safety.

  3. Educate: Teach young children to use strong and unique passwords across all their accounts and never to share passwords, even with their friends. Direct them to fun and engaging educational materials such as this online safety quiz from the UK Safer Internet Center. 

  4. Highlight the risks: Discuss the risks of posting and sharing private information, videos, and photographs, especially on social media websites. Everything posted online is a digital footprint for children and can be challenging to completely erase. Parents should help children avoid posting content that will compromise their security or which they may regret when they are older. 

  5. Walk the talk: Children are likely to imitate their parents’ behaviour, so parents are encouraged to lead by example and show their children how to safely surf online. 

  6. Encourage kids to think before they click: Whether they are browsing online videos, receiving an unknown link in an email or encountering banners/pop-ups while surfing the web, remind your children not to click on links that may take them to dangerous or inappropriate sites. Clicking unknown links is a common way devices are infected with malware and can reveal private and valuable information to criminals.

  7. Protect: Use a robust and trusted security software solution, such as Norton Security, for all household devices - from tablets to smartphones, laptops and desktops.

  8. Communicate: Most importantly, encourage and maintain an open and ongoing dialogue with your children on Internet use and experiences.

“Parents play a critical role in educating their children on the boundaries for acceptable and safe internet behaviours. An open dialogue about online experiences is the first step in protecting children online. The internet is a valuable resource for children’s development, and our children today don’t know a world without it. Preventing children from going online is not necessarily the answer, we encourage parents to establish house rules on internet usage based on their age and talk to their children about their online experiences.” - Nick Shaw, Vice President, Consumer Business Unit, NortonLifeLock.

Cyberbullying can be a challenging topic to talk about, but it doesn’t have to be. If we all – parents, children, friends, families, professionals – continue to #RaiseOurVoices we can work towards a common goal of protecting our children and stopping cyberbullying in its tracks.

In addition to Norton’s e-book guide on cyberbullying, the company created magnets for students to take home and help establish family guidelines to protect themselves online.

What are the most common threats kids face online? Find out more

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