The Carphone Warehouse has partnered with Professor Mona O’Moore of the Anti-bullying Centre in Trinity College, Dublin to highlight the risks posed by cyber-bullying and offer tips to parents to prevent and deal with it. One in four girls (24%) and one in six boys (16%) in Ireland have been involved in cyber-bullying either as a victim, bully or both¹. Text-messaging is the most common form of cyber-bullying among both boys and girls. Nearly one third of girls (31.4%) and over one fifth of boys (22%) in Ireland reported receiving nasty text messages in and out of school¹.
The Carphone Warehouse has produced an information leaflet on cyber-bullying for parents in conjunction with Professor O’Moore, which will be available in the 76 Carphone Warehouse stores nationwide. In addition, The Carphone Warehouse has a special offer on the vMad.com Bully Stop application for the Back to School season. Now retailing at just €5 (RRP €20) this application is downloaded to a child’s phone allowing parents to control who calls or sends them text messages. Parents can view the content of any blocked text or call and ensure that their child will not be bullied via their mobile phone.
Professor O’Moore commented on the launch of the campaign, “Cyber-bullying must not be treated lightly as it can destroy a child or teen’s emotional and social life as well as causing them to dislike school and to underperform academically. Parents can make a difference by looking out for the signs of cyber-bullying such as a child becoming withdrawn, moody or depressed, and taking action when they suspect that their child or teen is targeted or indeed, is getting at someone else in an abusive and intimidating manner.”
Professor O’Moore continued, “Talk to your child or teen about cyber-bullying. Do not wait till it happens. Inform yourself about how you can help to prevent or counter it. Make use of blocking devices. Most importantly reassure your child and teen that you are there for them as there is no shame in being bullied. The problem lies with the bully. It is critical that your child or teen knows that it is wrong to bully and equally what steps they need to take should they ever experience cyber-bullying.”
1. INFORM YOURSELF ABOUT MOBILE PHONE AND INTERNET USE AND SAFETY.
Read your child’s mobile phone manual and take note of how to contact the phone’s service provider should it be necessary to make a complaint.
2. MAKE SURE YOUR CHILD OR TEEN UNDERSTANDS THE IMPORTANCE OF INTERNET AND MOBILE SAFETY STRATEGIES.
Don’t take it for granted that your child or teen knows how to avoid the pitfalls of electronic communication. Warn them of the dangers of putting photos of themselves on the internet or to share their name, address, phone number and other personal information online. Ask them would they put the same information in a shop window as they pass around amongst their peers.
3. INFORM YOURSELF ABOUT BLOCKING DEVICES, WHICH WILL HELP TO BLOCK UNWANTED AND ABUSIVE CALLS.
The vMad Bully Stop application allows your child and teenager to control who calls or sends them texts and enables you and your child to view the content of any blocked text.
4. ENCOURAGE OPEN AND NON-JUDGEMENTAL COMMUNICATION WITH YOUR CHILD AND TEENAGER.
Talk to your child about their online friends and activities in the same way as you would their traditional friendships and activities. Ask if they have seen abusive and hurtful texts or postings. Ask them what they do if they did. If there is anything you do not understand about their mobile phone or internet activities ask them to show you.
5. KEY ADVICE FOR YOUR CHILD OR TEENAGER IF TARGETED
· Do not feel ashamed. The shame lies with the perpetrator
· Don’t reply to abusive or hurtful messages
· Save the message
· Report the threatening or offensive behaviour to parent or teacher and/or contact the service provider (through its Customer Care or Report Abuse facility). If the cyber-bullying is very threatening and serious contact your local Gardai
· Block the sender
6. SHARE EVIDENCE OF CYBER-BULLYING WITH THE SCHOOL.
7. MAKE SURE YOUR CHILD AND TEENAGER UNDERSTANDS THAT YOU DISAPPROVE OF CYBER-BULLYING.
It is important that children and teens learn to respect each other so they should be told to avoid engaging in cyber-bullying for whatever reason. Should you as parent be informed of their inappropriate behaviour impress upon them that one should not do onto others what one would not like done to oneself. It is vital also that you try to find out the reasons for their cyber-bullying behaviour so you can help them overcome it.