A note from our Editor-in-Chief: I was approached by a representative of Whole New World to promote The Australian Teenage Expo in Melbourne this August. Upon learning about the expo, I offered to run this post and one other at well below my usual sponsorship fees because I believe the expo and this content is important for you to know, to read, and to share. Stay tuned to the end to find out how to win one of 10 double passes to attend The Australian Teenage Expo and don’t forget to share this with every teen and parent you know.
How to keep teenagers safe online and deal with Cyber-bullying
by Sacha Kaluri
We know it’s our job as parents to stay up to date with what’s happening online so we can prevent cyber-bullying and create a safe online environment for our children.
Yet the online world is often a foreign and sometimes scary place for parents, and we seem at such a disadvantage as our teenagers navigate it so naturally.
To save yourself hours of angst, as your teen gets frustrated by your lack of knowledge, it’s important to take the time to research the websites they are frequenting; to learn what these sites are about, how they work, learn the language and find out what makes them so popular.
Once you have this insight, conversations with your teen will be made so much easier, as you will both be on the same page, even if you are coming at it from different angles.
Have positive conversations
Two out of five young people are bullied online and the majority of them will never tell anyone.
This scary statistic exists because many bullying victims are afraid of being judged, ridiculed or the potentially severe repercussions that can occur when their bully finds out they have told someone which often leaves them feeling very isolated and alone.
The only way to keep safe online is to ensure there are no secrets and that is why it is so important to have regular, open communication with no topics off limits.
Never delete anything
Encourage your teen to never delete anything, whether it is online or a text message.
Keeping the browser history, old text messages and even photos taken and received via SMS will give you a clear understanding of what is happening. More importantly it will provide you with evidence in case you need to make your child’s school or even the authorities aware of any situations should they escalate beyond your control.
Talk about what can go wrong
We all like to think ‘that will never happen to me’ but the scary reality is that it could, and it does.
We need to prepare young people by discussing the things that can go wrong. For example, it’s important that they understand what can happen if they tell friends their password, or if they receive friend requests from people they do not know.
We want our children to be trusting and carefree, but we also want them to be smart and informed about the risks and realities of the society we live in.
Therefore it is essential to show caution when interacting with people online and to speak up if someone they do not know is attempting to connect with them.
Nothing is private online
We can’t rely on privacy settings to protect our children online. Nothing you place online is private; whatever is uploaded online is there for life, even when you delete something, an imprint of it remains and can be tracked down.
It is critical that your child understands that if they upload photos of themselves or friends that are of a sexual or illicit nature, there can be huge consequences that can follow them throughout their lives.
It isn’t about prohibiting them from sharing their experiences online but educating them to make the right choices about what is suitable for online and what isn’t. A good rule of them is “if you wouldn’t want to see it on a billboard in the middle of the city, then don’t post it online.”
Lead by example
Often adults themselves act mean or even rude online; it can be easy to think this sort of behavior is ok because you understand the consequences, or are informed about the situation, however it is setting the perception that this sort of behavior is ok.
We have countless examples in the media where well-educated adults have bullied individuals online, regardless of how it looks and the consequences that follow. Take Charlotte Dawson as an example, the Australia’s Next Top Model host has been subjected to bullying via her Twitter account which took a severe toll on her health and self-esteem.
The idea of cyber-safety is to not scare our children out of using online mediums; we want them to embrace technology because it is only going to become more and more prevalent in our society. Social networking sites are a great place to socialise and stay in touch with people, so it is important to have fun with it whilst being safe.
Finally, it is important to note that cyber-safety is not just a once off conversation. It is something that needs to be continually discussed over and over in an approachable and understanding manner.
Sacha Kaluri is the Co-Founder of the Australian Teenage Expo, and travels around Australia speaking to young people on how to have the career of your dreams, bullying and cyber-bullying, stress management and body issues.
The Australian Teenage Expo is running from 29 August to 31 August 2013 at The Melbourne Showgrounds, for more information please visit www.teenageexpo.com.au or facebook.com/AustralianTeenageExpo
To win a double pass to attend The Australian Teenage Expo simply comment with the answer to this question: What do you wish someone had told you when you were a teen?
The best 10 answers will win a double pass each.
The legal bits:
- This competition is open to residents of Australia
- The competition opens 5pm 26th July and closes 5pm 16th August
- Tickets only valid 29th August to 31st August 2013 at The Melbourne Showground
- Winners will be notified by the email address they use to comment, and will be asked to provide a postal address for the tickets