Keeping kids safe online is a top priority for parents and caregivers in today’s digital age. With the ever-increasing amount of time children spend online, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential risks and take steps to mitigate them. Here are some key strategies you can implement:

Open Communication and Education

Start early and have ongoing conversations: 

  • Begin by talking to your kids about online safety as soon as they start using the internet. Discuss appropriate behavior, responsible sharing, and the importance of privacy. Keep the conversation open and encourage them to come to you with any questions or concerns they may have.

Teach them to be critical thinkers: 

  • Help your children develop critical thinking skills to evaluate online information. Encourage them to question the content’s source, purpose, and accuracy before sharing or believing it.

Discuss cyberbullying and online predators: 

  • Talk to your kids about the dangers of cyberbullying and online predators. Explain how to identify suspicious behavior and what to do if they encounter it. More on cyberbullying later.

Technical Safeguards

Set clear rules and time limits: 

  • Establish clear rules and time limits for internet and device use. Consider creating a family media plan that outlines expectations and consequences for violating them.

Utilize parental controls: 

  • Most devices and platforms offer parental control features that allow you to restrict access to certain websites, apps, and content. Explore these options and tailor them to your child’s age and needs.

Keep software up to date: 

  • Regularly update your devices’ operating systems, browsers, and security software to ensure they have the latest protection against malware and other threats.

Use strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication: 

  • Encourage your children to use strong, unique passwords for all their online accounts and enable two-factor authentication whenever possible for added security.

Monitoring and Guidance

Place devices in common areas: 

  • Avoid placing devices in children’s bedrooms to facilitate monitoring and open communication about their online activity.

Review browser history and app usage: 

  • Periodically review your child’s browser history and app usage to gain insights into their online activities and identify any potential concerns.

Be mindful of social media: 

  • If your child uses social media, encourage them to use privacy settings to control who can see their information and posts. Consider having them use these platforms under your supervision, especially at younger ages.

Remember…

Open communication and trust are key: 

  • Building a strong foundation of trust and open communication with your children is essential for keeping them safe online. Encourage them to share their online experiences with you and feel comfortable seeking your help if they encounter any issues.

Stay informed: 

  • The online landscape constantly evolves, so stay informed about emerging trends, risks, and safety tips. Utilize resources from trusted organizations like ConnectSafely, NetSmartz, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Adapt your approach: 

  • Adapt your safety strategies as your child matures and their online activities evolve. Be flexible and adjust your approach based on their age, interests, and online maturity level.

By implementing these strategies and fostering open communication, you can empower your children to navigate the online world safely and responsibly.

FATHERS MUST DILIGENTLY BATTLE BULLYING

Bullying is defined as:

  • Unwanted aggressive behavior
  • Observed or perceived power imbalance; and
  • Repetition of behaviors or high likelihood of repetition

Two modes of bullying include:

  1. Direct – bullying that occurs in the presence of a targeted youth
  2. Indirect – bullying not directly communicated to a targeted youth, such as spreading rumors

Four types of bullying included broad categories of:

  1. Physical, verbal, relational – efforts to harm the reputation or relationships of the targeted youth
  2. Damage to property
  3. Cyberbullying – involves primarily verbal aggression (e.g., threatening or harassing electronic communications) and relational aggression (e.g., spreading rumors electronically)
  4. Cyberbullying can also involve property damage resulting from electronic attacks that lead to the modification, dissemination, damage, or destruction of a youth’s privately stored electronic information.

SUPPORTING YOUR CHILD

It is tough when your child faces bullying. Here are steps you can take.  

If Your Child Is Bullied Online

Immediately…

  • Listen & Reassure: Let them know you understand how difficult it is, and they’re not alone. Assure them they did the right thing by telling you. Avoid judging or blaming them.
  • Don’t Panic: Stay calm and supportive. Encourage them to take deep breaths and remind them not to respond to the bully.

Gather Information:

  • Collect Evidence: Take screenshots, save messages, and document details (dates, times, platforms, usernames). This may be helpful for reporting.
  • Ask Questions: Gently explore the situation. Who’s involved? What’s happening? Is there a history? This helps you assess the severity and find solutions.

Take Action:

  • Report the Bullying: Report it to the platform used (website, social media, gaming app). Most have reporting mechanisms.
  • Block the Bully: Block the bully from contacting your child further.
  • Change Privacy Settings: Increase privacy settings to limit who can see and contact your child’s profile.
  • Consider School: If bullying spills offline, inform your child’s school. They may have anti-bullying policies or resources.

Support Your Child:

  • Emphasize Safety: Remind them not to engage with the bully. Discuss their online safety strategies.
  • Build Confidence: Talk about their strengths and help them develop coping mechanisms (e.g., hobbies, spending time with supportive friends).
  • Seek Help: If needed, consider professional support from a therapist or counselor to help them process the emotional impact.

 If Your Child is Being Bullied at School…

Here are some steps you can take to support them and address the situation:

1. Listen and Reassure:

  • Create a safe space for your child to open up and share their experiences. Listen without judgment and validate their feelings. Reassure them they’re not alone and you’ll help them through this.
  • Gather details: Ask gentle questions to understand the situation better. Who is involved? What happened? Where and when did it occur? Documenting details can be helpful later.

2. Report the Bullying:

  • Contact the school: Schedule a meeting with the teacher, principal, or counselor. Share the details and express your concern. Emphasize that bullying needs to stop and seek solutions.
  • Ensure the school takes action. Request a follow-up meeting to discuss their plan and progress. Keep track of communication and actions taken.
  • Consider escalating: If the school’s response is inadequate, contact the district superintendent or district board of education. Contact the state board of education if necessary.

3. Support Your Child:

  • Develop coping mechanisms: Help your child find healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety, like exercise, relaxation techniques, or journaling.
  • Build confidence: Focus on your child’s strengths and positive qualities. Encourage activities they enjoy to build self-esteem.
  • Connect with others: Talk to supportive friends, family, or therapists. Consider peer support groups for your child, if appropriate.

4. Additional Resources:

Bullying is a serious issue wherever it takes place, online, at school, or in the neighborhood. Don’t hesitate to seek help and support for your child if needed. By staying calm, taking action, and providing emotional support, you can help your child navigate this difficult situation. Remember, you’re not alone in this. Resources are available to help you and your child navigate this difficult situation. Advocate for your child and work with the school and/or other authorities to ensure their safety and well-being.

Assurance from the Holy Scriptures


 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

– 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5 NIV

Join

We invite you to join this new and growing community of fathers, Fathering Strong. To register, go to www.fatheringstrong.com, download the free app, and turn on the notifications. Explore the many resources, engage in conversations with other fathers, and share your story.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  Go to www.fatheringstrong.com to donate. To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.