Last month, Weirton-Wellsburgh Chapter of Credit Union conducted the annual Anti-Bullying Poster contest for the 5th graders, and I simply loved it. The city mayor was also there and we got to hear some very important (and also appalling) facts and figures about bullying and cyberbullying amongst kids.
Well, I was really concerned with the cyberbullying part, because it’s something that parents can’t take control of without instigating their kids. “Mom, don’t touch my iPad”, says my daughter, whenever I try to peek into her gadget.
While my daughter doesn’t own a smartphone yet, I still find it pertinent that parents get an insight to text bullying. Bullies are no longer restraining to playgrounds to harass their mates, and it’s not limited to verbal or physical bullying. Approximately 9/10 teens have a cell phone, and about 1/5 will probably be victimised through text bullying. Text bullying is also considered far more catastrophic than the traditional bullying. So why not spy on SMS of your kids?
Check out these factors that make text bullying a real issue for the parents.
· Unlike traditional bullying, text bullying can happen at any time of the day. Kids can feel inescapable of text bullying, because we all know how hard it is to ignore the notification chimes emanating from a cell phone.
· Text bullying can turn out to be more offensive because the bully can’t see what the bullied person is going through.
· It can be really frightening for the kids to receive threatening text messages from anonymous people.
· Teens think that text bullying isn’t traceable and they often engage in such acts because of their wrong perception. Text bullying isn’t anonymous, and teens who get caught can face criminal charges. Parents are encouraged to monitor their kids’ cell phone for this purpose.
· Kids who are bullied can reciprocate by bullying, making themselves a bully too.
· Sexting is a criminal offence and is charged under child pornography even if the sender involved a minor.
· Texting doesn’t end up from where it starts. It can pass around to other people and even to your kids’ potential teacher, or boss and that could largely influence your child’s future.
Text bullying—how bad is it for our kids?
Bullying is never good for the kids, but when it comes to text bullying, it can get real tense. Kids can face all the forms of negative repercussions like:
- · Anxiety
- · Depression
- · Suicidal behavior
- · Violence
- · Social alienation
How to make it stop?
While it’s tempting to take away your child’s cell phone, but doing so can further aggravate their mental health. Bullied kids need support from their parents, and they need to be realised that they aren’t responsible for any of it. Taking your kid’s cell phone would make them believe that you don’t trust them. Kids don’t report text bullying because of the fear of losing their cell phone. Therefore, as a parent, you need to make some effective moves to deal with text bullying and when you spy on SMS, you largely reduce the possibilities of bullying.
· Talk to your child about text bullying and discuss why it’s wrong. If your kids have ever been bullied, tell them it’s not their fault and why they shouldn’t keep it from you. Convince them they won’t be penalised or punished.
· Tell them not to respond to any sort of bullying, but instead report directly to you.
· Educate your kids about the sexting and its legal effects.
· Consider having a smartphone contract with your child. This contract, though having no legal value could help you reiterate all the preconditions that you want your child to acquiesce to giving them a cell phone. Forbid text bullying and resort to parental controls to reinforce responsible behavior from your child.
· There are many parental control apps that you can install onto your child’s cell phone. Some of them have remote control capabilities that could come in really handy while monitoring kids’ cell phone. Though I have not used a parental control app, nor do I endorse one (because my child doesn’t have a cell phone), but I searched over the internet and found out that XNSPY is widely used for teen monitoring.
· What I liked about the app was that it can be used to spy on SMS, while keeping tabs on many other phone logs like calls, emails, internet browsing, notes, and even contacts.
· XNSPY can also be used to stop cyberbullying because of its social media monitoring. It can track chats, call logs and multimedia from WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and many other IM apps.
· Tell your kids to never let anyone else use their cell phone for texting.
· If your kid is frequently contacted by anonymous persons, contact your cell phone company and get a new phone number for your child.
· If your child knows who the bully is, contact the bully’s parents and inform them about what their child is doing. If that doesn’t work, resort to a legal action.