Today marks International Stand Up to Bullying Day, a semi-annual event that encourages people to take a visible, public stance against bullying. It is also the perfect opportunity to take stock of cyber-bullying and how it’s impacting your children.
South Africa has the highest prevalence of cyberbullying, based on a majority (54%) of parents who know of a child in their community who has been the victim of cyberbullying.
Casey Rousseau from 1st for Women Insurance, who launched SA’s first cyber-bullying insurance policy in 2018 says, ‘The threat of being cyberbullied has now increased given the unprecedented rise in screen time during the coronavirus pandemic. While many social media platforms are taking their policies seriously when it comes to reducing cyberbullying, children remain at risk and more still needs to be done.’
There is no better time than the present for parents to be proactive in speaking to their children about online safety and cyberbullying.
- Tell them what cyberbullying is, what the signs are and how to recognise it. Help them to identify and articulate this in their own language.
- Check out the privacy settings, terms and conditions and usage rights of the platforms your children are on.
- Adhere to age restrictions specified by the platforms.
- Use parental control apps and set up a social media or internet usage agreement with your children so that you are both on the same page of what is acceptable or unacceptable online behaviour.
- Be interested and involved in your child’s online world and have regular conversations about the friends they meet, the games they play and the risks involved.
- Understand that even if an account is set to private, and other users cannot see your children, they are still being exposed to the content. Guide them to make informed and good decisions when it comes to the content they consume.
South Africa has a hotline for reporting online child sexual abuse and at the Internet Watch Foundation. Childline South Africa also offers counselling and support to children who need to reach out on 08000 55 555.