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Digital Parenting

Is Your Teenager A Screenager?

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 19, 2018  /   Posted in Cyberbullying, Digital Parenting, Featured Article, Internet Addiction, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

Is your teenager constantly glaring at their screen? Are they part of the screenager generation?

Did you know that according to new studies teens are frustrated by their own obsession with their smartphones?

How can parents help them find their digital balance?

Smartphone addiction has become an increasing concern for many parents, especially with the start of school just around the corner, and many students getting smartphones. A 2016 survey from Common Sense Media  found that half of teenagers felt addicted to their devices, and 78 percent checked their devices at least hourly.

Seventy-two percent of teens felt pressured to respond immediately to texts, notifications and social media messaging. A Pew Research report found that 73 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds had their own smartphones or had access to one, and 24 percent said they were online “almost constantly.”

So what can parents do to help prevent their teenagers from becoming screenagers? AT&T offers these tips:

  1. Start with a contract. The first step is to set boundaries, and what better way to do this than to put the rules in writing. Draw up a Cell Phone Contract, or a Family Agreement, with your young user. Family agreements can include rules about when and how the phone may be used, and detail consequences for breaking the rules. You can find numerous examples of cell phone contracts or family agreements online. Almost all of them focus on the same key items, such as sharing passwords with parents, limiting use of the device to certain times of the day and in certain places, promising not to use the device for inappropriate photos or bullying, and so on.
  2. Set limits and monitor use. Consider creating “no phone zones” in your home, like the dining room table, and making sure your teen is putting the phone away at certain points of the day. Also, take advantage of parental controls to set limits on your child’s smartphone use, and monitor it. For example, AT&T Smart Limits allows parents to block unwanted calls and texts from up to 30 numbers; set monthly limits on texts and mobile purchases; and restrict texting, data usage and outbound calling during specified times of the day. There are also monitoring services that let you view your child’s texts, call logs, phone location and more.
    And if you have a teen driver, use an app that curbs your teen’s temptation to use their phone behind the wheel. The free AT&T DriveMode app silences incoming alerts and automatically replies to text messages, letting the send know you are driving. DriveMode also sends a text message to a parent if the app is turned off.
  3. Create daily and weekly offline time. Most teens admit to having FOMO, or fear of missing out, on something, and the need to respond quickly when they receive messages and notifications. That constant potential feedback loop can lead to obsessive behaviors that disturb the course of daily activities. Researchers say creating daily and weekly offline time as part of the family routine can be helpful.
  4. Be cyber aware. Being constantly connected brings increased risk of theft, fraud and abuse. Educate your young user on internet safety tips. Stress the importance of never sharing their personal or family information online and never engaging with strangers online. The AT&T Cyber Aware website at www.att.com/cyberaware provides tips to help you and your child avoid falling victim to scammers.
  5. Be a role model. As parents, we should consider our smartphone habits as well. The 2015 Pew survey found that 46 percent of American adults  believed they could not live without their smartphones. If we expect our kids to limit their time on their smartphones, then we too need to practice what we preach.


Courtesy of AT&T. Contract by The Exhausted Mom.
Disclosure: P.U.R.E. is not compensated by AT&T and doesn’t endorse products or services. We provide informational and educational resources for parents of young people today.

If you believe your teen is struggling with addiction that is now interfering with their life, Internet or otherwise, and have exhausted your local resources, please contact us.

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Tips To Keep Your Teen Safe Online without Being Intrusive

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 30, 2018  /   Posted in Cyberbullying, Digital Parenting, Featured Article, Internet Safety

Can You Monitor Your Teen’s Internet Use without Being Intrusive?

The internet is a great source of information and entertainment. It’s how we shop, how we research, and how we connect with other people. Adults aren’t the only ones spending time online, though — pre-teens and teens use the internet and online apps to communicate with others online, and they use them a lot.

According to a 2015 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 92% of teens report going online daily, and even pre-teens and younger kids have started using connected devices in higher numbers. So as your kids spend more time on the internet, how do you make sure they stay safe online without overstepping healthy boundaries?

The four tips below can help you teach your children how to use the internet safely and responsibly.

  1. Create a Family Media Plan

Talk with your teens and tweens about setting up a family media plan. This includes discussing screen-free areas in your home, acceptable screen time and unacceptable screen time, and appropriate online behaviors. Here are a few examples of common family rules:

  • Phones are turned in at night
  • Screen time isn’t allowed past a certain time
  • Phones aren’t allowed at the kitchen table
  • Computer time is allowed only after homework is completed
  • Certain information shouldn’t be shared online
  • Apps should be downloaded only with a parent’s permission

These rules can not only help your tween or teen be safer online, but give you a great opportunity to model good online behavior. By showing your kids that good online safety practices apply at all ages, you can make it clear that you aren’t enforcing unreasonable or overbearing rules.

  1. Teach Responsibility and Good Judgement

Teach your children to set limits and create boundaries for themselves on the internet. If kids are taught early on that internet use should come secondary to family time and school time, they will be less likely to abuse the web as they approach their teen years.

Remind your teen that using the internet responsibly means thinking before you post — they shouldn’t post their location, address, money information, or any other personal information. Teach them that quizzes and giveaways are often used to capture personal info, for instance, so they should never click on those types of pop-ups or ads.

Also, be clear about what appropriate online time looks like and how they should manage their online time. If your child has a test coming up the next week, help them plan their prep time and internet time so they can work hard and have some screen time during their downtime.

  1. Install and Use a Monitoring App or Filter

If you’ve decided that an internet monitoring app or a web filter is the best way to track what your teen or tween is posting to social accounts or texting their friends, it’s important to follow a few basic guidelines when you start:

  • Inform your teen or tween that you’ll be using a monitoring app or internet filter, and explain how it works. Being honest with your child from the start will help them avoid any feelings of you going behind their back.
  • Install a parental control program that is only as strict as is necessary. The program should run in the background on your child’s phone or computer, and your child can use their device as they normally would.
  • Review habits and behaviors with your kids. Taking time to review messages or internet use with your teen can help you identify how your child is spending time online and make sure they’re not receiving any dangerous messages or being bullied.
  1. Help Them Set Social Media Preferences

If your kids share pictures, videos or messages on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or other social media platforms, they may be unclear about who can see their posts. Take a moment to help your tween or teen set their privacy settings so they can easily restrict who they let see their information.

This simple step will help your child establish who can contact them, who can view their info and photos and who can see the messages and posts they publish.

Most tweens and young adults use social media and technology responsibly. They’ve grown up surrounded by the internet, but often, their technical knowledge can far exceed their judgement. By following these tips, you can help your children be better educated on how to conduct themselves online and you can keep a watchful eye on them without being too intrusive.

Contributor: Hilary Bird is a digital journalist who writes about the things that fascinate her the most: relationships, technology, and how they impact each other. As more and more people become more and more reliant on their tech devices, Hilary wants to help them stay safe and understand how these devices will reshape the way we communicate. 

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5 Ways to Combat Cyberbullying for Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 28, 2018  /   Posted in Cyberbullying, Digital Parenting, Featured Article, Teen Help

In 2017 we heard a lot about digital resilience, but do we understand what it is?

Helping our teens be ready for online hate and digital discourse offline can better prepare them when they are faced with it. Reality is that incivility exists – sadly this is a human behavior that we don’t have control over, but we can choose how we handle it.

Today our kids consider their digital life as important as their lives offline, so it’s important to give them as much knowledge and encouragement to know they are not alone when they are faced with cyber-hate.

Cyberbullying is not only impacting our teen’s emotionally – it causes them to miss school, become withdrawn, drop out of sports or other activities they once enjoyed, failing when they were once good students, changing peer groups or becoming isolated and more. Teens can experience a higher level of stress and anxiety when they are struggling with online bullying.

The most troubling outcome of cyberbullying and online harassment is the rise in bullycide. Too many young lives have already been taken — parents need to educate themselves to better protect their kids offline to handle online issues.

5 ways to build digital resilience

  1. Prepare them for the ugly side of the Internet or possibly being upset by what people say. Remind them it could be inappropriate content that slips through filters. Being forewarned is being forearmed.
  2. Show them how to block individuals, flag and report abusive content, and when to report incidents. Emphasize the importance of telling someone “in real life.”
  3. Show your teen how easily digital pictures can be manipulated. The realization that not everything is what it seems is a useful first step – understanding that life is not as perfect as it may seem virtually. Teens may be familiar with the digital world but less familiar with the motivations for creating ‘fake’ images.
  4. Help them to think through the possible consequences of what they post online. Remind them that there is no rewind, once it’s posted it’s nearly impossible to take back. Fifteen minutes of humor is not worth a lifetime of humiliation.
  5. Encourage your teen to socialize in person with their friends. Communicating solely behind a screen can be isolating. Socializing in person builds more face-to-face contact in helping your child have empathy and compassion towards people.

As we know communication is key with your teenager, yet can also be challenging. Have you considered book chats? My latest book, Shame Nation: Choosing Kindness and Compassion in an Age of Cruelty and Trolling (Sourcebooks, October 2017) was written for both teens and parents and perfect for discussions on digital wisdom, cyberbullying and making good cyber-decisions.

Amazon has a special offer on Shame Nation – buy a few copies, we have a book discussion guide to help you get started.

Together we can start curbing this culture of cruelty and bring it to a civil nation.

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Bullycide: Understanding Cyberbullying

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 06, 2018  /   Posted in Bullying, Cyberbullying, Digital Parenting, Featured Article, Parenting Books, Parenting Teens

We’re barely into 2018 when we’ve already have had several headlines of youth taking their lives from cyber-humiliation – across the country and the globe:

Dolly Everett of Australia, Sarah Ullman of California and Gabriella Green of Florida.

Young girls that were bullied online and didn’t feel they had a way out. The term bullycide has now been defined to describe these young people that become so emotionally distressed by (online and offline) harassment/bullying that they commit suicide.

Are girls getting meaner?

One parent who knew Dolly Everett and her family shared how his daughter was also victim of online bullying. According to Daily Telegraph, this father said his 15-year-old daughter Katelyn had been bullied relentlessly via Snapchat for years.

He posted a photo on Facebook of one of the horrible messages he said Katelyn regularly receives.

“Why don’t you just go cut your wrist until you bleed out,” the message said.

“You’ll do everyone a favour. Go do what dolly did it should’ve been you not her”.

Katie Hurley, author of the new bestselling book, No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong Confident and Compassion Girls (Penguin, January 2018) encourages parents to talk to their daughter’s about relational aggression.

In No More Mean Girls, Katie Hurley stresses the importance of starting these conversations early:

“Define words like gossip, teasing, taunting, public humiliation, excluding, cliques or groups, and cyberbullying (yes, even if your child “never has screen time” and “has no chance of getting a phone anytime soon.”) Avoiding these topics will only keep your daughter in the dark and render her powerless when she does confront them. Educating her and talking about positive alternatives empowers her and prepares her.” – Katie Hurley, No More Mean Girls (Penguin, January 2018)

Short chats are better than long chats

As a family cyber-advocate for over a decade, I’ve encouraged parents to talk to their kids offline about online safety. This is not the sex talk, this is the tech chat. In reality, these are so much easier and can be fun. The one hiccup is — they have to be as regular as, how was your day at school.

We all know that communication is key to help keep our kids safe, both online and off — but at the same time, we understand that talking to our teens (especially) can be a struggle. Maybe we can only squeeze in five – ten minutes at a time, which is better than nothing, especially if it’s on a regular basis.

  • Driving to school, a sporting event, dropping them off at a friend’s house etc. Anytime your “side-by-side” with your child in a car is a great time to connect with them.
  • Coffee shops, ice cream parlors (or smoothies) – Enjoy a treat with them – and talk tech. Teens love their technology – and in reality, they do want you to be interested in their online life.
  • Family dinners – We know parents try, but even if you can do this once or twice a week, make it a habit to ask about everyone’s cyber-life. Any new apps? Websites or virtual friends? Most importantly – have they witnessed any online hate – and what do they do about it?

Yes – talk about what to do when they read people being hurt online. Recently a young teen won a contest for his video on helping bystanders become upstanders. In my interview with him, he shared how he was once a victim of bullying — and didn’t share it with with parents, but wished he had. His video, Leave A Message, is an empowering three minutes you need to share with your child.

Parents, you need to be more involved and interested in your teen’s cyber-life. It truly matters.

Learn more about how to help your child build digital resilience.

Understand why some kids aren’t talking to their parents when they are suffering with digital hate, and try to reassure your teen that no matter what, you are there for them without judgement.

Book chats with teens can truly open up dialogue. My recent book, Shame Nation: Choosing Kindness and Compassion In An Age of Cruelty and Trolling (Sourcebooks, Oct 2017) offers a discussion guide that can help you start a conversation with your teenager. Shame Nation is for teens and parents alike to read.

Let’s not wait for your name or a friend or family to become a headline – start your chats today.

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Digital Parenting Challenges

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 30, 2017  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

“Everything has a time and place.” This familiar saying is a popular motto for juggling life’s demands and pleasures. We can also apply this mantra to managing the abundance of today’s technology with our children. Somewhere among the love and hate relationship with social media and homework searches, we must find a healthy balance in regards to our children’s technology use. To help us on this journey, we need to consider what teens are doing online, if we should be monitoring our children’s Internet activity, and ways we can curb overuse.

What Are Teens Doing Online?

It’s no secret that our kids rely heavily on their devices, but as parents, we often find ourselves wondering what is so compelling to keep their attention fixated on glowing screens for hours and hours on end. We know they enjoy scrolling through social media, taking selfies, posting funny DubSmash videos, or streaming videos. Afterall, these features have made digital devices an indispensable luxury for our kids.

However, lurking behind all of the merriment is a dark side to our daughters’ and sons’ digital activity. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to recognize all the scary situations awaiting our children just by glancing at their screens. No, these scenarios can range anywhere from oversharing personal information to cyberbullying to interacting with online predators. Up until a few years ago, these topics were foreign and completely left out of parenting guidebooks.

Consider how a recent study found that 87 percent of our kids have encountered cyberbullying as witnesses or victims. These numbers are up from around 28 percent just a little over a year ago, which means rates of cyberbullying have basically tripled. This is disheartening on many levels, because cyberbullying has been linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts in our children.

In addition to cyberbullying, sexting is so commonplace that experts see these behaviors as normal and many teens view sexting as a safe alternative to sex. This might be true when it comes to pregnancy and disease, but if kids are underage, the simple act of snapping a provocative selfie is considered child pornography. Sexting, even if it is consensual, will be prosecuted as distributing or possessing child pornography. In addition to legal battles, this can open kids up to digital exploitation, bullying, and harassment.

Should You Monitor Or Not?

Realizing our children might be participating in risky online behaviors is frightening, but we need to realize that 70 percent of our kids actively seek ways to hide their online activities from us. This is only compounded when our sons and daughters are plugged in an average of six or more hours every day. Which can lead many of us to contemplate spying or using monitoring to stay on top of our children’s digital presence. Afterall, anything posted online has the potential to be made public.

Typically, experts warn spying should be avoided, because these behaviors have the potential to ruin parent and child relationships. Monitoring, however, doesn’t rely on sneaking around or hacking devices. This technique can range from simply following a teen’s social media accounts or openly installing software to compile a complete picture of a child’s texts, social media apps, contacts, and locations. If done correctly, this method offers opportunities for open dialogue while protecting a teen’s privacy.

How Should We Handle Constant Device Use?

To help parents overcome modern digital parenting challenges, please check out the following seven tips:

Begin an ongoing conversation about developing a healthy balance of technology in our lives. 

Teach social media etiquette early and build on topics as a child ages. 

Institute a “blackout policy”. An example of this could be powering down all devices from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m. to allow a break from technology.

Limit the amount of data a child has access to on their Smartphones or tablets. 

Provide opportunities for children to log off for a few minutes daily. Reclaim family meals, sign up for extracurricular activities, or dust off the old board games for an alternative to pixels and selfies.

Reinforce a child’s good choices. Give them feedback to show that you notice their good choices.

Create a technology contract for the family that clearly lays out all expectations and consequences.

How does your family manage digital parenting challenges?

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Preventing Distracted Driving: 5 Tips for Parents of Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 27, 2016  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

pixabaydrivingDistraction is one of the biggest problems with driving for people of any age. For teenagers, however, it’s especially dangerous since they may not have the driving skills and reaction time to quickly recover from near-accidents. Stress the importance of minimizing distractions while driving with your teens. The following five tips can help to achieve this.

  1. Educating your teen about the dangers of distracted driving is essential, and one of the first things they need to learn. Talk with them about the dangers of texting, talking, eating, and doing other such tasks while driving a vehicle. Sharing stories with them about tragedies that have occurred due to distracted driving can emphasize the point. There are also commercials and videos that demonstrate these dangers that can be used as educational tools.
  2. Teens love driving around with their friends, but teenage passengers can often cause distractions. One tip to help control that is to limit the number of passengers allowed in the car at one time while your teenager is driving. Your child probably won’t be thrilled about the restriction, but it’s better to annoy them than to cope with the devastating aftermath of an accident.
  3. While it may not seem like an obvious factor, closed-toed shoes are important when it comes to safe driving. Although they’re a favourite, flip-flops are not the best footwear to wear when driving, since they can easily slip off while using the brake pedals. This can easily cause a distraction, so it’s best to suggest your child wear closed-toed shoes while getting used to driving.
  4. One of the worst distractions in a car today is mobile phones. This holds true for both teens and adults. How can you be absolutely sure your teen is not texting, talking, or using an app while they’re driving? Downloading a safety app can help. There are several apps available that can give you, the parent, control over your child’s phone, like disabling it when they take the car out for a drive. Some apps also offer auto-power off features that disable the phone when the vehicle reaches a certain speed.
  5. It is important for parents to lead by example. If you say one thing but do another, your teen will pick up on that and not take you seriously. As a parent you need to be sure to always buckle your seatbelt, do not text, and do not talk on your phone while driving. If you need to make a call, text, or change the GPS, pull over to do so.

Safety is All That Matters

You child may not be happy with some of these ideas being enforced, but at least they’ll be safe while out on the roads. You can always suggest that they get a job within walking distance if they take issue with your rules.  Once all is said and done, all that really matters is the safety of your teen and everyone sharing the road with them.

Contributor: Vee Cecil is a wellness coach, personal trainer, and bootcamp instructor. Vee is passionate about studying and sharing her findings in wellness through her blog MyNewWell.com.

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Teens Are Live Streaming More Than Ever: The Security Risks

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 14, 2016  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Parenting Teens

teenlivestream

Livestreaming allows the world to be everyone’s stage. Events can be watched in real-time as the action unfolds. From a baby’s first crawl to a violent police arrest, the world watches and waits for more.

The danger, however, is that once an event is streamed live for the public, there is no going back. Adults understand the boundaries, but teens—with their brains still developing—struggle to always understand the harmful repercussions of the live stream.

Teens and tweens live online. Their world is posted on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter…all the social media forums. Today’s generation of e-centric kids don’t know the meaning of true privacy. They share. Too much and too often.

The harm of livestreaming is numerous. Not only are kids and teens putting their image out for the world to see, but they also document moments that should remain private. Secrets that friends disclose might find a way online. Fights at school, also are popular via livestream.

The cell phone is Pandora’s Box. Capable of shooting pictures, capturing video and posting everything online. The boundaries blur. Teens don’t know when not to hit send.

teenlivestream2In June 2015, two teens from Utah were arrested for burglary and theft. They decided to break into an ice-cream truck and steal the ice-cream. Of course, they taped their shenanigans and livestreamed the whole crime.

A few months ago, three teens allegedly live streamed intimate acts on Facebook. In another twisted case, a girl was accused of livestreaming her friend’s rape. Both cases resulted in police investigations.

For parents, the trouble with technology and live streaming lies in the naivete of kids. Teens, tweens and younger kids do not have the capacity to always make great decisions. Their minds are in the midst of developing…they are in a mental war about right and wrong. Impulse, unfortunately, usually wins out in the fight.

Parents must talk to their kids about personal boundaries, private information and what can and should be shared online. A teen might think that a fight is cool, and because it seems cool then it should be shared. Parents need to be prepared for their kids to be in these situations…with their cell phones.

Fights, abuse and crazy things have always happened. Today, the issue is that these things are easily documented, and teens are often the ones documenting them. Fifteen years ago, teens were not all armed with individual recording devices. Now they are, and parents must prepare them for the responsibilities that go hand-in-hand with technology.

Role playing is a great way to teach kids responsibility and help them understand how to respond in a tough situation. Parents should make up cards with scenarios on them depicting scenes that a teen might see at school or in the world. Have the teen choose a card and then act it out.

When role playing, discuss how technology plays a unique role and how the consequences of an action can magnify online. Discuss with teens what is the right and wrong action according to laws in the state. Always educate teens on the laws; they must abide by them, and they can absolutely be prosecuted under them.

Use the controversy and the popularity of live streaming to also discuss personal and private information. Set boundaries as a family about what information can and cannot be shared online. Talk about oversharing. Discuss respect and what it means in friendships and families.

Teens and tweens are very much guided by their peers. However, they look to their parents for support and security. Many teens have found legal troubles from live streaming. Be open with kids about the dangers and harm of sharing too much and using the world as a stage.

Once a video live streams online, it can never be taken back. The internet is forever, and the results can be life changing in the worst ways.

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amywilliamsContributor:  Amy Williams, a journalist and former social worker passionate about parenting and education.

Follow her on Twitter.

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Tips on Setting up a Smartphone Contract With Your Teen

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 20, 2016  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

You already have a number of rules for your teen. From keeping his room reasonably clean to helping feed the pets and doing homework before watching television at night, your teen is used to living with certain boundaries. So why shouldn’t this extend to his cellphone usage?

Now that you have bought your teen his first smartphone, you should create a cellphone contract to make sure he knows the boundaries. Here are a few reasons why:

Why a Contract

SmartphoneContractUnfortunately, smartphones can be used in ways that are less than wise. Your teen may be tempted to text and drive or post messages or photos that are inappropriate. After all, they are young and will probably try to bend the rules. But when you take the time to write out and sign a list of expected behaviors, everything is clearly set up in black and white. Your teen might try to say he forgot a certain cellphone rule, but when you can bring out the contract as a reminder, it will take a bit of the wind out of your child’s sails.

Include What Type of Phone is OK

Your teen may have visions of the latest and greatest smartphone, but you and your wallet will have the final say. In the contract, spell out what types of cellphones your teen is allowed to have, including any information you wish to add about acceptable price ranges, payment and data plans, and other features. You may not want to get the newest version of a smartphone, but rather go a step down to save a little money without sacrificing the quality. For example, instead of buying your teen the new Galaxy Note7, go for the Galaxy Note5 that still has many of the same features. If your son is contributing some allowance money to the payment, add that to the contract, too.

Decide if You Approve of Internet Access

Your teen might not need a phone that can access every last website on the internet. If you feel like he should be able to text his friends and call you for rides but not be tempted to buy things from online retailers, that is totally fine. But if you think he might need it for school research or for checking email, you might allow Wi-Fi access when necessary. No matter what you choose, write it down in the contract so there are no misunderstandings later.

Make a List of Rules and Consequences

As for how to fill out the rest of the cellphone contract, sit down with your teen and go over whatever rules you feel strongly about. These may include things like “No texting friends after 9 p.m.,” “No loaning your smartphone to friends” and “No texting or driving, period.”

The consequences should also be very clear. Some examples may include “If my grades drop to a C or lower, I will lose my phone until they are back up” or “I will lose smartphone privileges for a day if I play games on my phone before finishing my homework.”

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The Link Between Bullying and Teen Suicide

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 03, 2016  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Featured Article, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help

TeenBullyingSuicideExamining the Link Between Bullying and Suicide (and What to Do if Someone You Know is in Danger)

Bullying is a significant and complex problem in our society. We used to worry about in-person bullying — physical injuries, theft, and even vandalism. Today, in addition to bullying we also must be concerned about cyberbullying, which can be just as harmful. In 2013 the Urban Institute’s study on bullying revealed that “17% [of] students reported being victims of cyberbullying, 41% reported being victims of physical bullying, and 45% reported being victims of psychological bullying.”

In 2014 JAMA Pediatrics reported that “cyberbullying was strongly related [to] suicidal ideation in comparison with traditional bullying.” Most kids spend a lot of time online, talking to friends, but also gossiping at times. Because they see the Internet as anonymous, kids feel as though they can pretend to be someone else online (known as catfishing), and bully people in this way. This can be immensely harmful to others, as well as themselves, and can have devastating consequences.

Who, Where, Why?

Like other forms of bullying, cyberbullying can occur anywhere, by anyone. All that’s required is a device with Internet access, which is incredibly common anymore.

People from all different backgrounds are bullied. Some groups are unfortunately more likely to be bullied, such as LGBTQ youth, young people with disabilities, and individuals who tend to isolate themselves from others. Basically anyone who is different from the accepted norm in their respective community or peer group is at a higher risk of being bullied.

A bully can pick on anyone about anything. They can target those they deem to be too “weird” or different from themselves, or even someone they’re secretly jealous of. Children and young adults have been bullied for myriad reasons, from weight, to wearing the “wrong” clothing, to merely being outside a clique. Some of the warning signs that may indicate that someone is being bullied include:

  • Unexplained physical injuries
  • Items missing that the victim states are “lost”
  • Feeling or faking illnesses, often headaches or stomach problems
  • Different eating habits, whether overeating or undereating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of interest in school and having trouble with schoolwork
  • Not wanting to be in social situations or a loss of friends
  • Low self-esteem and hopelessness
  • Hurting themselves, speaking of suicide, and leaving home without notice

The Link Between Bullying and Suicide

Children who are bullied may be at an increased risk of suicide. However, most bullying victims do not think about suicide. Bullying itself is seldom the single cause of suicide; it’s typically a combination of issues, illnesses, or situations in the individual’s history combined with bullying that leads to suicidal thoughts. Some issues of concern include mental illness, traumas, and bad home situations. In addition, there are different groups who may have an increased risk of suicide including:

  • American Indian and Alaskan Native
  • Asian American
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth
  • Kids [who] are not supported by parents, peers, and schools

How to Help With Bullying

There are many ways to help someone you know if they’re being bullied, including:

  • Really listen to the individual, show that you care by paying attention.
  • Let the child know that being targeted by bullies is not their fault.
  • Realize that bullied children might have trouble talking about it with you. You may want to have them talk with a psychologist, psychiatrist or even a counselor at their school.
  • Give them some good advice as to what to do. You may want to partake in role-playing in this situation.
  • Work together with the victim, the victim’s parent(s), school, or an organization to come up with a fair solution. The child being bullied should not have to have their schedules or routines changed; they are not at fault.

How to Help With Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is new to our society and is becoming more and more common. Some children have taken their lives as a result. There are some ways you can help your child or friend prevent cyberbullying, such as cutting off communication with the bully, blocking the bully on social media sites (so they do not have any access to your postings or phone number), or complaining anonymously to the social media sites where cyberbullying is taking place — they have strict rules and will keep evidence of bullying interactions.

If you’re a parent, ways to help your child include supporting them mentally and emotionally and not forcing them to end online communications with others. When a child is the victim, being banned from participating on social media may be perceived as punishment. It’s not their fault, though, that they are being victimized. Consider speaking with the other child’s parent(s) or even the police (if the situation is serious enough). Bullying is a serious problem and can lead to many terrible events, including violence and suicide. Remember that there is always someone out there to listen and support you.

*****

Contributor: Steve Johnson co-created PublicHealthLibrary.org with a fellow pre-med student.The availability of accurate health facts, advice, and general answers is something Steve wants for all people, not just those in the health and medical field. He continues to spread trustworthy information and resources through the website, but also enjoys tennis and adding to his record collection in his spare time.

(Image via Pixabay by Jedidja)

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Teen Online Dating: Digital Love

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 05, 2016  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help

Should teens be looking for love online? Should they be on sites such as Tinder or Match?

Age restrictions on these sites are in place for a reason, however we know that many teenagers will find a way around them if they want to bad enough. It’s not any different then tweens joining social media platforms designed strictly for ages 13 and older.

LoveisRespectLove Is Respect offers advice, resources and tips for parents, teachers and teens.

Everyone deserves to be in a safe and healthy relationship, both in person or online. If your partner is digitally abusive, know their behavior is not acceptable and could be illegal. Check out the tips below for staying safe on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, foursquare and others.

  • Only post things you want the public to see or know. Once it’s online, it’s no longer under your control.
  • Be protective of your personal information. Your phone numbers and addresses enable people to contact you directly, and things like your birth date, the schools you attended, your employer and photos with landmarks may make it easier for someone to find where you live, hang out or go to school.
  • Set boundaries and limits. Tell people not to post personal information, negative comments or check-ins about you on social media. Ask people not to post or tag pictures if you’re not comfortable with it.
  • You can keep your passwords private — sharing passwords is not a requirement of being in a relationship.
  • Don’t do or say anything online you wouldn’t in person. It may seem easier to express yourself when you are not face-to-face, but online communication can have real-life negative consequences.

Abuse or Harassment

  • Don’t respond to harassing, abusive or inappropriate comments. It won’t make the person stop and it could get you in trouble or even put you in danger.
  • Keep a record of all harassing messages, posts and comments in case you decide to tell the police or get a restraining order.
  • Always report inappropriate behavior to the site administrators.

HeartbrokeLeaving an Abusive Relationship

  • If you are leaving an unhealthy relationship, start by blocking your ex on Facebook and other social networking pages. We recommend you don’t check-in on foursquare or other location-based sites or apps — you don’t want your ex or their friends tracking your movements.
  • Adjust your privacy settings to reduce the amount of information that particular people can see on your page. Privacy settings on sites like Facebook allow the user to control how their information is shared and who has access to it. Remember, registering for some apps require you to change your privacy settings.
  • Avoid posting private details on your friend’s pages. They may not have appropriate settings and doing so may allow someone to see your movements and location. The same goes for tagging yourself in pictures.
  • Consider what is called a “super-logoff” — deactivating your Facebook account every time you log off and reactivating it every time you log back on. This way, no one can post on your wall, tag you or see your content when you’re offline, but you still have all of your friends, wall posts, photos, etc. when you log back on.
  • While it is inconvenient and may seem extreme, disabling you social networking page entirely may be your best option to stop continued abuse or harassment.

Your Friends’ Safety

If your friend is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, be careful what you post about them. Pictures, locations, check-ins and even simple statements can be used to control or hurt them. If you’re unsure of what’s ok to post, get your friend’s permission before you click “Share.”

Source: Love Is Respect

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