Cyber bullying and Internet safety!
Internet safety is our central concern here at Zeeko, and cyber bullying is one of the top issues that arises in our seminars and advice sessions.
We have all become more aware of bullying in schools, and rules are in place to help deal with that. And in recent years, we have all become more aware of cyber bullying in schools, due to the massive explosion in mobile phone use amongst young people. Preventing cyber bullying in schools is the responsibility of not just parents, but schools too.
So in this blog, we are sharing some of the Irish-based online resources that we rate highly.
1. The Office for Internet Safety is a Government agency responsible for internet safety in Ireland, particularly as it relates to children. Its website is www.internetsafety.ie
This website contains a lot of useful information on the regulation of the internet, as well as the activities of the Office, which is part of the Department of Justice and Equality.
What’s particularly useful for parents is its Publications section: currently there are 4 useful publications to help understand the latest technologies relating to filtering inappropriate sites, as well as a guide to social networking sites that children use.
2. The Irish Internet Safety Awareness Centre runs www.webwise.ie, which is a very user-friendly and up to date resource with short articles and insights into the latest social media trends amongst young people. The Centre is co-funded by the Department of Education and Skills and the EU Safer Internet Programme.
The advice on this website tends to be more useful for teachers and parents of teenagers, but is very useful nonetheless.
There are separate sections for Parents and for Teachers, and the website is easy to navigate. Its News section brings the latest research and reports into cyber bullying and internet safety, and if you want to get an international list of resources on internet safety, their Advice section is a good place to look.
3.The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) www.ispcc.ie has useful advice on bullying and cyber bullying and what to look out for if you think your child is experiencing bullying in school. The Society has a useful leaflet on their website under the Advice section, which you can download, and the organization is also running an effective anti-bullying campaign called the ISPCC Shield Campaign, which is a little shield badge and downloadable resources with advice and tips.
Another prominent and effective Irish children’s charity, Barnardos, has advice on cyber bullying on its website www.barnardos.ie as well.
4. watchyourspace.ie is an internet-safety resource specifically targeted at teenagers, but ideal for parents too. It’s run by webwise (see no. 2 above) and it’s a really well-designed website with an emphasis on video stories to describe how teenagers in schools are tackling cyber bullying in schools. The video feature on Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom, Co. Limerick, was an effective way of describing how the teenagers themselves are learning awareness of bullying on the internet and what to do if they see it happening to them or those around them. The advice not to share a photo of your concert ticket is always useful!
5. The website www.spunout.ie is aimed at teenagers and young adults, but once again, it has very useful cyber bullying advice for parents of children who are heading for the teenage years.
We have learnt from our experience in primary schools that many of the social sites that are aimed at teenagers and over 18s are being accessed and used by under 12s, particularly the gaming sites.
This website has a very useful guide to the popular social media App Snapchat, and good general advice on how to block unwanted followers, how to protect your passwords and profiles, and general internet safety. This is the kind of advice that parents and older adults who don’t use the internet that much can find very helpful in the maze that is the Internet. Because when tackling the fear of cyber bullying in your immediate family, it is essential to get informed.
We don’t say that this list is a comprehensive one, not by any means. There are very useful links also to UK and US based internet advice sites, but all the basics you require to get the essential information is available in Ireland. Do remember though that trends are changing all the time.
The key advice we give parents is to get involved in your child’s online life, ask them what they are doing online, and let them know that you are there is they have any worries.