Cyberbullying: How to Talk to Your Kids

Tips from Internet privacy expert Parry Aftab.

Jan. 28, 2010— -- Being the victim of a cyberbully can be traumatic and humiliating for children and teenagers. Internet harassment has even been blamed in the suicides of several teens.

Below are a few tips on how to talk to your children about cyberbullying, courtesy of the Web site of Parry Aftab, an Internet safety and privacy lawyer.

Tell children to get an adult involved as soon as the bullying starts.

Kids may fear even more harassment by telling an adult, but parents and school officials can help the victim decide when to ignore the bullying or when the authorities should be called.

Start talking early. Cyberbullying can start with children as young as 8 or 9 years old and typically continues until about age 15, according to Aftab's Web site.

Tell kids not to react openly. When the bullying starts, the perpetrators are often looking simply for a reaction from their victims, a sign that their torture is working.

Help children deal with the emotional pain of being cyberbullied. Honor their fear and embarrassment and be ready with hugs and reassurance.

Tell children to "take five"-- walk away from the computer, do something they enjoy to get some perspective.

Help children block e-mail and social media accounts of the cyberbullies.

Although free e-mail accounts mean the bullies can simply continue the harassment, Internet-monitoring software can help track the bullying and be used as evidence for authorities.

Encourage children to report the harassment to the social media site or Internet service provider.