Keeping Your Kids Cyber-Safe
Stalking- the unwanted attention, following, and harassment of a person by another person, or a group of people- has been a problem as long as human beings have walked the earth. In the last few years, as social networks have exploded in popularity, stalking has evolved into cyber-stalking. Nowadays, many teens find themselves the targets of unwanted attention from their peers on social media. The Internet gives stalkers a tool that allows them to harass their victims at all times, and can give them access to their victims’ personal information. Teens may be hesitant to talk about stalking or seek help. So how can a parent help a child who is being stalked online?
- Look For Signs. Have you noticed a sudden change in your child’s mood? If they seem depressed, anxious, or scared, something may be going on. Specifically in the case of cyber-stalking, if they suddenly start avoiding the Internet, it may be a sign that something is up.
- Talk About It. While they may not want to talk about stalking, it is very important to talk to your kids if you think they are being harassed online. Try to get them to open up, and to share their problems with you. Encourage them to spend less time on social media if they are constantly being harassed.
- Talk to Their Teachers. Teen stalkers frequently attend the same schools as their victims. If your child is hesitant to talk to you, the teachers at their school may be a good resource to find out just who is stalking your children online.
- Online Security. If your child is being stalked, help them set their social media accounts to the maximum levels of privacy. This should help protect them from stalkers.
- Contact the Authorities. If necessary, seek help from the local police. Stalking and harassment are crimes and if a stalker will not choose to leave your child alone, you may need to contact the police or other authorities for help.
- Encourage Your Kids to Have Safe Social Media Habits. Make sure they know that they shouldn’t accept friend requests from people they don’t know. Also, help familiarize themselves with the various harassment policies of the social networks they use. Many social networks have systems in place to deal with and prevent harassment.
It is important to understand that cyber-stalking is a real problem, and not something that will go away if you ignore it.