I am going to be doing a series of posts with Keeping Kids Safe Today author Joyce Jackson! We will be cross posting a series of articles on this topic for the next few weeks. Check out all of our posts here!
Someone parents a cyberbully every 15 seconds……..
It sounds like a drug free America commercial, doesn’t it? These are just my statistics – pure guesswork.
I had a Mom come tell me that her “perfect” daughter was caught TEXTING until 2 in the morning on
school nights. The teen, from a strict set of parents, was forbidden to talk to boys after 5pm on the
phone. What she was doing was quietly texting them until 2am with all kinds of tantalizing “requests.”
Interspersed between suggestive notes were vicious messages she would send to a few girls she knew of
at school that she disliked.
“Should I take her phone away?” was the mother’s question to me.
I hesitated as I thought about the ramifications of my real answer…..
Thank you, mom for making my point: someone has to be the cyberbully’s parent.
Of course you take the phone away! You also must realize that taking the phone away doesn’t even
begin to solve the problem. This Mom needs a shrink for herself, then one for her husband. After that,
long after that, they might be able to help their daughter.
The girl herself may or may not ever get the fact that her behavior needs to change. The parents have a
long road ahead in helping her. They may run out of time before she heads out the door at 18. The
parents need to go back to square one: set up rules for Internet use. Even at this point, setting some up
is a starting point. Stemming the flow of wantonly parenting cyberbullies has to go back to the very,
very basics. The basics will work in a dilemma this out of control but will take time – something we find
These “house rules” should fit the family and parenting style. Set rules for the computer, phone and
home game system. All are potentially linkable to the Internet so all need rules. Set up time limits,
activities allowed and basic safety practices. You can get the basic safety practices here.
Then, make sure your kids UNDERSTAND the rules you set up. They don’t have to like them but they do
have to understand them. Have them tell you what they think they mean back to you, in their own
words. Most importantly, set up consequences for violating the Internet House Rules and make sure
they understand those, too.
Now, here’s the rub: you have to enforce the House Rules! You have to be consistent in applying
negative consequences to violations of the clear rules of being online. From my perspective: “too-bad-
so-sad” for any violations. Online safety might be mainstream but some of us still realize and understand
the dangers of the Internet and are willing to be unforgiving when it comes to online safety.
As for my texting-crazed 2am teen, I have one question for her parents: just how long did you pay the
cell phone bill without noticing the time/day/date stamp and quantity of text messages?