Stop trying to catch up with the latest apps, websites and devices your kids are using online. They'll always be three steps ahead of you. But there are vital measures you can take to keep them safe while they hang out in cyberspace.
In this exclusive Google Hangout with On The Marc Media's Marc Silverstein, award-winning author and lecturer Kay Stephens shares valuable advice about battling cyberbullying. She is leading the conversation on cyberbullying awareness and prevention in Maine and around New England.
High on Stephens to-do list for parents: sign up for uKnowKids.com, a digital parenting tool that monitors your child's mobile use, social media activity and location--alerting parents when threatening language is used.
In the video (above), Stephens encourages parents to proactively set the tone of the conversation about cybersafety with their children instead of playing cat-and-mouse with technology. Each device, she says, should come with clear rules and expectations for use. Let them know what behaviors won't be tolerated and that there will be consequences for misconduct on computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones and gaming devices.
More importantly, Stephens urges parents to create a culture where children can identify cyberbullying and feel comfortable reporting it to their parents.
Stephens is set to publish Ethel Is Hot (LOL) in early 2014. The young adult novel follows Ethel F. Effleby, a 12 year old girl who transfers to an all-girl technology and leadership school in Maine--one of the few states where all middle and high schoolers are given a tablet and laptop. Ethel is happy and secure in her nerd-dom until she's a target of a schoolwide digital smear campaign.
The book was born not long after Stephens co-authored Cyberslammed™, a Time Warner Cable-funded manual of strategies parents and educators can use to combat the six most common forms of cyberbullying. Ethel Is Hot (LOL) is an independent release, fully funded by the popular crowdsourcing website Kickstarter. Stephens exceeded her $1,200 fundraising goal, and the eBook will be available on Kindle as early as next month.
Working with middle schoolers, parents and educators for more than a decade, Stephens isn't new to witnessing how ruthless tweens and teens can get digitally. Cyberbullying dates back to the early 2000s but is ever-changing. Two of the latest cyberbullying tactics to look out for are:
Text bombing: A group of people using smartphones to assault a victim's phone with several vicious or nonsense messages. In some cases, the digital assault can overwhelm the victim's phone servers, the phone breaks.
Digital burn books: Posting photos of the victim (without consent) to a website where users can rate and comment anonymously.
To learn more about Stephen's books and a list of free cyberbullying resources, visit www.cyberslammed.com.