Cyberbullying can happen in many forms and through many different apps on a phone, and sometimes victims don’t even have to have a phone. I’ve heard of instances where mean things were said about a fourth grader in a text message exchange, and then the exchange was shown to the kid who didn’t have a phone to get the bullying across. Even though the target didn’t own a phone, she was still a victim of cyberbullying.
While it is hard to stop bullying before it starts, it is possible to nip it in the bud. Here are some steps to take the second cyberbullying has occurred:
1. Report It: It is important that kids are empowered to tell their parents, educators, or any trusted adult that they have been bullied. An online exchange that makes them uncomfortable in any way ought to be reported. Even if it is not overtly mean, it is important that conversations are taking place to maintain an open, trustworthy line of communication. An adult can then take control of the situation, remove the kid from harm's way, and report the bullying to the appropriate authorities such as a school principal or the police.
2. Limit Personal Information Online: Often bullies will look for personal information that can be used and manipulated to the detriment of the victim. Make sure profiles are marked as private on all social media sites. Teach them how to check their friends so only trusted friends can communicate with them and see their information. Monitor their social media use so you are both comfortable that it is being used in an appropriate manner.
3. Document the Activity: Whenever cyberbullying takes place take an immediate screenshot to document the activity. This in-the-moment evidence could be critical later on, especially if it is delivered through an app where messages disappear after a certain amount of time. (With Latch Mobile, you’ll automatically have screenshots of the activity to review, even with disappearing messages.)
4. Block the Bully: It can hit particularly close to home when a bully turns out to be a “close friend.” Despite this, have your kid block the bully on social media and report the activity to the website or app. Many websites have policies against cyberbullying and take these reports seriously.
At Latch Mobile we can’t stop the bullying from happening in the first place, but we can play a critical role in ending it as quickly as possible. Our patent pending technology screens your kids phones for aggressive or abusive conversations, whether they are in a text, app or on social media site. When a toxic conversation (or an inappropriate string of emoji) happens, the parent is notified and can intervene. And in collaboration with our partners and other experts, we can help you have a positive and productive conversation with the right resources and guidance. We understand there are risks with smartphone ownership, and parents have blind spots. We are here to help.