Tech Tuesday: Cyberbullying

Local expert shares ways to keep your child safe

DAVENPORT, Iowa - Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices - like cell phones, computers, and tablets.

Elizabeth Tinsman is the CEO and founder of Twin State Technical Services. She shares some ways parents can help keep their children safe online.

Netiquette is how to behave socially using technology. "You don't engage, don't push people online. You don't try to debate things online in a tone or manner you wouldn't do face to face."

Tinsman warns of "flaming" - a back and forth escalation of insults that can lead to cyberbullying. It's at that moment you need to pause, take deep breath, and think about it.

Studies show 1 in 3 children say they've been victims of cyberbullying with about 40-percent of cases involving instant messenger services, 30-percent taking place on social networking sites, and 20-percent occurring while playing online games.  

"There's a thrill factor, but you have to be aware of your surroundings in cyber space - just like walking to school or your dog that you do in every day life." And if your online "friends" aren't lifting you up and making you a better person, get out!

If your child is being cyberbullied, they shouldn't respond to the bully online. Tell them to take a screen grab, block the bully, and tell a trusted adult.

Tinsman advises parents to keep computers and phones out in the open - never in a bedroom, and have your child's passwords to see what they're up to online. 
"This is a time for a parent to coach on how to learn how to communicate correctly."

Think about social media as driving a car. Whether your child is 14 in Iowa or 16 in Illinois, eventually, they have to go out there on their own. So teach them how to behave properly.

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