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Cyberbullying in the US increased by 10% in 2 years

How you can protect your kids

How to protect your kids from cyberbullying

As many children are coming back to school, experts recommend to parents how to keep them safe online

According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, cyberbullying cases in US schools have risen by 10% in the last two years.

“This growth in cyberbullying has mainly happened because of the pandemic, which increased kids’ screen time by around 17%. Even though we cannot make mean kids nicer, we can teach our own kids how to keep themselves safer on the internet and avoid cyberbullying,” says Daniel Markuson, a cybersecurity expert at NordVPN.

Cyberbullying is any form of online abuse that makes someone feel worthless and vulnerable. Researchers from the Journal of Health Economics say cyberbullying increases suicidal thinking among victims by 14.5% and suicide attempts by 8.7%.

Most common types of cyberbullying

  • Harassment/Cyberstalking: These forms of cyberbullying are perhaps the most similar to physical/real-world forms of bullying. Harassment involves someone targeting your child’s online identity (email inbox, social media, etc.) with hurtful comments or images. It can come from one assailant or many, and it can leave victims with deep emotional wounds if it isn’t stopped.
  • Outing: Outing is the practice of publicly revealing sensitive or embarrassing information or files. This is a common form of abuse used to target gay youth who have not yet revealed their orientation, but others can be targeted as well. Examples include bed-wetting, embarrassing medical conditions, or embarrassing mistakes your child would rather forget.
  • Exclusion: Often seen in children and teenagers, it involves actively excluding the victim from social groups and activities.

Protecting your child from cyberbullies

As a parent, you can't protect your children at all times. However, Daniel Markuson recommends some steps parents can take today to lower the online risks their kids face.

  1. Make sure their devices and accounts are secure. Strong passwords can prevent bullies from accessing a victim's social media accounts or even a stolen device. A good password should be at least twelve characters in length, contain a mixture of letters, symbols, and numbers, and avoid any recognizable dictionary words.
  2. Make sure to adjust privacy settings. Teach your child to adjust their privacy settings on social media. They can decide who gets to see certain images, stories, and snaps and who gets to view their profile. Settings can be changed at any point.
  3. Give them other safe spaces to vent. Young people sometimes use online spaces to open up emotionally, which can attract unwanted predators. Encourage them to express themselves to you or their close friends privately to avoid them giving ammunition to online attackers.
  4. Advise them against using their real name for online accounts. Creating a moniker for online accounts can help protect your child's true identity should things get complicated. It may also prevent bullies from using their real name to find out where they live, what school they go to, or who their family members are.

NordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider, used by millions of internet users worldwide. NordVPN provides double VPN encryption and Onion Over VPN and guarantees privacy with zero tracking. One of the key features of the product is Threat Protection, which blocks malicious websites, malware, trackers, and ads. NordVPN is very user friendly, offers one of the best prices on the market, and has over 5,000 servers in 60 countries worldwide. Click here for more information.

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