Cyberbullying: Does Parental Supervision Make a Difference?

Can proper parental supervision actually reduce cyberbullying? You may know the short answer, but find out exactly why & how it helps.

Can parental supervision actually prevent cyberbullying? That’s the question on all of our minds, especially when we find out our kids are the victims of cyberbullies. When most of today’s parents were kids, bullying really only existed in a couple of forms – you were either bullied to your face, or the bully talked about you behind your back to other people. Those were both extremely hurtful and potentially harmful means of bullying, but our kids today have another platform entirely to be bullied (or to bully others) than we did – the internet.

Does Parental Supervision Help Stop Cyberbullying?

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Cyberbullying, in some ways, is even worse than traditional bullying because the bully is able to hide behind his or her screen. The bully can create a false profile or even be anonymous if he or she so chooses. This seems to cause people to have no filter, saying whatever they want regardless of whether or not they may hurt another person’s feelings.

As a parent dealing with this world for your kids, you may wonder if parental supervision makes a difference when it comes to keeping your kids safe from cyber-bullying. In short, the answer is yes! Having at least some sense of what your child is doing when she’s online is critical to protecting her.

So what steps do you take? There are two forms of supervision – direct and indirect.

  • Direct supervision is a highly effective means of supervising your children when they are online, and it’s just what it sounds like – you’re there, watching your child’s interactions when he is on the computer or on his phone. Watch his body language when he’s using his devices to see if he looks upset or unhappy. The downside to direct supervision is that your child might try to find other means of getting online when you’re not there.
  • Indirect supervision, therefore, is probably necessary to some extent, as well. There are lots of apps that are disguised as games or other seemingly “safe” items that with a secret code enable a messaging function (this was a new one for me – what will they come up with next?!). Together with your children, set ground rules for their time online. How will they access the internet (what device or devices)? How long are they allowed to spend online? Are they allowed on social networking sites? And, most importantly, how should they address with you any concerns they have?

If you’re concerned whether or not your child will follow these rules, you may take it a step further and monitor their online activity. With apps like PocketGuardian, you will receive alerts if cyberbullying or sexting is detected on their devices.

I’m a big believer that open communication with my children is key. While they are young enough now that they are not online, I anticipate when that time comes, we will discuss why we’re setting limits on their interactions. I want them to know that I love them and need to make sure they stay safe – and there is a lot that is not safe online. I also want them to know that they should always tell me when something feels wrong or makes them uncomfortable, including anything they see or read on the internet. I hope that this communication will help them feel safe talking with me regardless of what it is they are going through.

If you’d like additional resources, you might want to check out “How to Keep Your Kids Safe Online,” or the books Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying or Cyberbullying and the Wild, Wild Web: What Everyone Needs to Know.

It’s a scary world out there, and some preventative measures will go a long way toward keeping your kids from being the victims of cyberbullying. Or, at the very least, if they are targeted, they will have the tools to know how to handle it, with your help.

Do you believe that parental supervision can make a huge impact on preventing cyberbullying? What other tips do you have to avoid or address it?

11 thoughts on “Cyberbullying: Does Parental Supervision Make a Difference?”

  1. I think parents supervision does help a lot, recently I was a witness to a cyber bully and it’s not to be taken lightly at all, it got so worse to the point that girl wanted to commit suicide and it took 2 months therapy and a lot of phone calls to police to finally get situation back to normal. One lesson I learnt from all this fiasco was to monitor my kids online activities using devices such as Wouter (router) or Circle with Disney to better equipped and know what your kids are doing without too much of invasion of their privacy

  2. I know cyber issues are a really big problem today. Parents definitely could supervise because kids sometimes are not vocal on bullying issues so checking is ok to make sure there isnt any cause for alarms.

  3. I was just talking to a neighbor who is a school counselor. She was pointing out something that I had never considered. With bullying in the past, the victim gets to go home and be “safe.” But cyberbullying means there’s always a way to enter your space. Must be so hard to be a teen right now!

  4. Annemarie LeBlanc

    I think we must monitor our kids’ online activity. We can always teach them to be responsible for what they post online and to immediately call our attention when something just doesn’t seem right.

  5. Kristi Nelson Renner

    I believe without a doubt that parents need to aware and involved with what their kids are doing online. Try to stay one step ahead of the kids, or attempt to. Too much access to very scary things to not be in the loop.

  6. I monitor my kids’ accounts. We had an incident a few years back that required intervention, so I was very glad I was doing so, or that might not have come to my attention (and it really needed to). You’re right though when you say ‘what will they come up with next?’ There’s always something and as long as we have kids on the net we have to stay current.

  7. It can be scary in this day and age. I think a parent should make a point to be involved with their child’s online activity as best they can.

  8. Bullying is so awful. It seems like every time you turn on the newsfeed you are hearing another sad story about it. It is important to keep kids safe online.

  9. I’m a firm believer that parents need to supervise online accounts. My daughter had a boy harassing her online and when I called his mother she was surprised hear about what he was doing online and admitted that she didn’t monitor his use, but would from there on out. My daughter knows I stalk her accounts, so she came to me with the issue before I found about it on my own.

  10. Cyberbullying is absolutely worse that traditional bullying. These bullies can say anything they want – post anything they want. They can drive kids to kill themselves.

  11. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle

    i think parental supervision plays a huge role in both bullying and helping kids who are being bullied. Great post.

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