Bullying can take place online in environments where there is little or no adult supervision. You have an important role to play in explaining your child’s rights and responsibilities when using smart phones, laptops or games consoles to communicate. Knowing how to identify when they or others are bullying someone, or being bullied by someone online will help with building a safe environment.
Children and young people are spending more and more time in online environments, with smart phones, laptops and hand-held devices allowing them to communicate in different ways. They can still experience name calling, being left out and having rumours spread about them online, through social media sites, online chat, or through gaming platforms. And it’s worth remembering that most of the friends children and young people interact with online, are the same people they interact with on a daily basis at school or where they live.
You need to be mindful that online spaces are just another ‘place’ young people go to, to socialise and meet up with friends. In order to help keep them safe you have to take an active interest in what they’re doing, where they’re going and who they’re interacting with – in the same way that you would if they were going into town, to the sports centre, or any other physical place.
And that means having an understanding of their online environment and how to make it safe. You can’t abdicate responsibility to software or service providers, you need to make sure you’re switched on to the ways young people are communicating with each other so that if they tell you they’re being bullied, you know how to react.