Parents need cyberbullying education

Jan 29, 2015 | News

Paula Todd (Toronto Star)

Paula Todd (Toronto Star)

By Emily Maloney

“We need big change in parents’ attitudes.”

This is the message Paula Todd, investigative journalist and author of Extreme Mean: Trolls, Bullies and Predators Online is trying to send.

Todd told students and teachers at Humber College that parents need to become more internet savvy if they want to prevent cyber abuse against their children.

“Every adult needs to know how to work the internet or what’s going on there beyond just sending emails and using your Facebook,” said Todd. “We need to teach respect of this technology to young people. Stop treating it like a toy.”

When a child is being cyber-bullied online, parents need to remember that taking away the device will not make the problem go away, Todd said. Parents also have to realize that young people find the internet to be a place of escape from (parents), and that taking away that outlet could cause more harm than good.

“More and more we’re trying to explain to parents that if you (threaten to) take your children’s technology away they will not tell you,” what is happening to them Todd said.

She said parents who give a child an IPad to play with are sending the message that the internet is just a fun toy and not a potentially dangerous tool.

Cyber abuse is an ongoing issue that can leave extreme psychological scars, and lead teens and young adults to take their own lives. There have been many prominent cases of  cyber abuse that have brought both national and international attention to the issue, but sometimes only after the victims have already committed suicide.

With so many children having access to the internet from a very young age it becomes parents’ duty to educate, Todd said.

Todd laid out steps that youth who are targets of cyber-bullying can take to help their situation:

1. Talk to somebody you trust.

2. Screen capture everything that you’re getting and print it out.

3. Alert your school, alert your family members, alert an online support group.

4. If the cyber-abuse is very serious call the police.