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It’s that time of year, parents. The kids are back in school. Prepare their lunches, check their homework, and one of the most important, monitor their internet use.

These days, technology has become more than the video game system or VCR. As many know it, the internet has become the T.V. of today. Internet is anonymous, helpful, educational, and dark. If parents aren’t careful, their children will be sucked in.

Part of the darkness is cyber-bullying, a force that follows children beyond the school playground or cafeteria. Don’t take it lightly. The past has proven that comments and hashtags have driven some children to suicide. According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), suicide is one of the leading causes of death among 15 to 24-year-olds. Children that are bullied are likely to develop suicidal thoughts and are at risk for acting out suicidal behavior.

Here are ways parents can counter the bullying on and off the computer:

  1. Monitor computer use: Block websites that are inappropriate for children, check the browser history, and look over their shoulder every now and again, especially when they use social media.
  2. Be someone they can talk to: The parent’s job is to teach; however, don’t be so tough that they can’t talk to anyone. You should be first one the child calls or talks to.
  3. Know who their friends are: Giving a child their space is an act of trust. It’s a beautiful thing, but hold your resolve. Your child’s protection is priority. Know the character of their friends. Allow your child to invite them over to get to know them.
  4. Secure firearms: Too many lives have been lost because an angry teen has access to a parent’s firearm. Some have chosen to take up arms as a vengeful act due to verbal and/or physical from their peers. Be responsible, secure the firearm, and get to the bottom of the child’s anger.
  5. Parental Presence: If there is any indication of bullying, walk your child into school. This may embarrass them, but they’ll know you have their back. It’s a subtle way to confront the bullying and an act your child will appreciate in the long run. Besides, you can address any issues with the faculty, personally.

The best preemptive strike against bullying is consistent involvement in the child’s life. Watching internet use, asking questions to a moody teen, and connecting with them are ways to secure a child’s physical and mental safety. Of course, a parent doesn’t want their child to feel smothered with attention, but you want to show them that you care.

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