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Targeting kids is nothing new. Bullies, predators and thieves have been around since our cave-dwelling ancestors decided Blerg’s kid didn’t grunt loud enough on the Saber Tooth Tiger Hunt, so they decided to stone him and take his club. Although the motives behind bullying haven’t changed, the methods have. According to DoSomething.org, a whopping 43 percent of children admit to having been bullied online, and 68 percent of teens concur that this is a serious problem. Not to mention the increasing number of children being targeted by predators and even identity thieves, as evidenced by Lifelock, a security company.
However noble intentions may be, ranting to friends and clicking like on anti-bullying Facebook groups doesn’t target the source of these problems, nor will it help prevent or solve the underlying issue.
Nipping It in the Bud
Although the psychological scars that drive each bully or thief are complex and vast, parents of the victims can help prevent their children from being targeted. McAfee, an Internet protection company, released shocking survey results that revealed 80 percent of parents don’t use any parental control software, and that 52 percent of parents have never even changed the security settings on their computers. Only slightly less than half of parents actively monitor their children’s internet usage. It’s time to start cracking down.
Watch for Warnings
When it comes to bullying online, it can be very difficult to read all the signs, as children are generally not too keen on re-living the horror and humiliation with you. If your child has been targeted online, you may not even notice at first. If they’ve been targeted by an identity thief, they probably won’t notice until it’s too late. That’s why identity theft protection is so important for the entire family.
Parents of kids who have been cyberbullied might notice their children being especially distant, perturbed and withdrawn. The signs are subtle, but the effects can turn deadly, as in the case of Megan Meier. According to ABC News, Meier was a young girl whose depression was exacerbated by a former friend’s mother posing as a boy and bullying her online. Eventually the bullying culminated in her suicide. In the news article, Megan’s mother Tina Meier lamented, in response to why someone would do such a thing: “We don’t know. How do you get in the mind of somebody? We just have no idea.”
Queuing Up Communication
Parents, it’s time to get an idea. Your children’s well-being very well may be at stake. While you might not always get an accurate snapshot of your child’s every move, it doesn’t take a psychic to figure out whether their child is an outcast or a prom queen, or where he or she stands on the popularity spectrum. Children don’t need to be interrogated, they just need to be actively observed. Although opinions vary on when it’s time to start having the dangers of the internet talk with your children, it’s generally best begun when they’re old enough to surf the web and understand semi-complex conversation matter. Don’t wait until it’s too late. When it comes to targeting kids online, be part of the solution, not a passive contributor to the problem.