On Sunday night I saddened by the NBC Nightly News story about Rebecca Ann Sedwick, a 12 year old Florida girl who jumped to her death after being a victim of cyberbullying for a year. While a dozen of her peers are being investigated, a sherrif spokeswoman said only two or three of them may have been involved in the bullying which took place social networking apps that Rebecca accessed on her mobile phone.
Why were there so many who witnessed the cyberbullying but didn’t get involved? Why was a 12 year old on social networking sites when Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) is supposed to protect kids under the age of 13? Why were these kids so relentless about harassing Rebecca after she changed schools, deleted her email account, and established a new identity on social networking profiles? Why didn’t the one person who Rebecca confided in about committing suicide seek assistance?
There are so many questions that will never be answered but as a parent of two elementary aged children, it’s another reminder to continue the important conversation about what it means to be a good friend. My tween daughter dipped her toe into the world of online chatting last year when assigned homework through an online portal that featured a chat function for her class. When we first learned about the chat feature, we had a conversation about how your conversations online aren’t any different than the ones you have in person. We talked about helping friends online and off. We also discussed what to do if someone says something unkind online and how it’s always ok to tell adults.
Talking about being a good friend online and off is an important element of digital citizenship but what else can parents do? Where do you go for the best information? How do you teach your kids about this important topic in an age appropriate way? Is there a way for kids of all ages to be creative online in a safe way?
While nothing will bring 12 year old Rebecca Ann Sedwick back, these resources and tools can help you start conversations with your kids and their friends, teach them about cyberbullying in age appropriate ways, give them the ability to exercise their voice and creativity through safe online spaces, and assist you in keeping an eye on mobile devices in your home. Use these resources in your home and share them with your children and community to help combat cyberbullying.
Other posts by Leticia you might like:
- Are You a Responsible Digital Parent? 11 Topics to Discuss Today
- 10 Apps to Help Teach Your Kid a Foreign Language
- 7 Resources for Teaching Global Citizenship to Kids
- 9 Reasons to Unplug in Favor of Digital Wellness
- Secrets to Unplugging? 7 Tech Power Users Share Digital Wellness Strategies