On the one hand, being able to contact your kids 24/7 puts many parents’ minds at ease. Smartphones are a great way of reassuring parents that when their child is in any trouble, they can just reach out for help. However, being switched on all the time also means your child is accessible to others too.
Friends turn into enemies very quickly in the lives of our young people – and sometimes just as quickly back into friends again. Bullying can come out of nowhere, from someone you thought was your child’s friend – and it can escalate very quickly thanks to the constant presence of the smartphone.
Here are three strategic tips to work with your child in managing their smartphone to help protect them from bullying. Nothing is foolproof, but if you make sure your child knows you want to team up with them rather than purely hold them accountable, they’ll be likely to share concerns with you readily rather than letting something get out of control.
- Friend slowly, block quickly. Learn how to block numbers and people on your phone, and don’t hesitate to do so. Some people are still learning how best to use mobile and digital technologies, and they forget their manners. They may be testing some boundaries, or just seeing if they can get under your skin. Don’t question why they are doing it, become a blocker!
- Don’t engage in a conversation with a bully. If any message makes you uncomfortable in any way, don’t bother trying to correct the sender, just block them from sending you more. It’s your phone, not theirs, and you are responsible for your reaction to inappropriate messages. Blocking them is not rude – the message that led to you blocking them was.
- Don’t hand your number out to everyone. If you wouldn’t want to have that person holding your hand through every day, then you don’t want to have them living in your pocket – which is where your smartphone lives. If you get messages from people you don’t know, don’t answer, just block them. If it happens regularly, talk to parents and then contact the service provider.
A final point: When you talk through these three points, if your child seems doubtful or needs support, I’ve found saying that they can blame mom or dad who on the weekly check of the phone blocked numbers they don’t know works well. It reiterates that you’re on the same team and your child will feel supported. If your child tells the bully that parents were responsible for the blocking, it sends the underlying message that her parents are monitoring the phone – which might also deter the bully from trying it again.
Image credit: http://elizabethmcintire.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Wikipeda-Examiner-Creative-Commons-iPhone-in-hand.jpg
Disclosure: This post is part of a series produced for and compensated by NQmobile, the company behind the fantastic NQ Family Guardian, follow the link to find out more about how NQmobile’s apps can help your family work together so you don’t have to play bad cop all the time. The company doesn’t pay me to say nice things about them, and you know I only work with companies I believe in. Check ’em out!