Happy Safer Internet Day (SID)! More than 140 countries worldwide today celebrate the landmark event that many internet goers have in the online safety calendars marked as SID. As you might have already known, SID aims to raise awareness of emerging online issues affecting internet users, especially children, and young people. Panda Security shares those values and proudly supports any activities that promote the safe and positive use of digital technology.

This year Panda Security has decided to discuss a significant issue that sometimes shadows the otherwise safe internet environment – cyberbullying. With the rise of social media, digital cyberbullying has been gaining more and more power over the years. Two decades ago, people were using the anonymity of the internet to threaten, intimidate, embarrass, and pro-actively target and harm other fellow human beings. Such acts existed in the real world, too. Still, in the early days of the internet, the digital world ended up being a haven for cyberbullies as people were able to hide their identity easily. And things with bullying in cyberspace kept on going in the wrong direction until law enforcement steeped on its game and bullies started realizing that the internet is no longer anonymous. Things might have changed, and cyberbullies nowadays might be more likely to be caught, but people will be people, and cyberbullying still occurs more often than we all want. The constant rise of social media has allowed many predators to use different platforms to threaten with comments, send mean texts, and post embarrassing photos.

What are the signs of cyberbullying?

Often youngsters will not feel comfortable telling parents that someone is using the internet to intimidate them somehow. Observing your child’s behavior is an effective way to know if cyberbullies are targeting it. If you notice your child being upset after using a smartphone or any other tech source of communication, there might be something going on. If your kid decides to skip school or uses secrecy when using a smartphone, or gets distressed every time a text or a notification is received, you may want to check what might be causing the stress delicately.

How to start a conversion about cyberbullying?

Many children would be hesitant to start talking about the fact that someone is bullying them – so you may want to approach them with sensitivity by demonstrating understanding. One of the biggest fears for children is to be exposed and vulnerable, thus showing compassion and understanding might get them to open for you and broaden the light on what might be going on. It is essential to let them vent – you will learn more of the details of what is going on and who might be causing the stress. The more you know, the easier it will be for you to find the right way to address the issue.

What to do after you confirm your child is being cyberbullied?

One of the first steps to do is to capture evidence. Once you have proof that your child has been approached inappropriately or is being blackmailed or is being somehow harassed, you can take the evidence to the appropriate authorities. If the harassment seems dangerous, you may want to contact the police, and if you suspect the bullying comes from school or a class, you may want to bring it to your child’s school officials. After the evidence has been collected, it is essential to disengage your child form the bully – in most cases, merely ignoring the bullies would most likely encourage them to move on, as they generally thrive on retaliation.

Every day will be a safer internet day as long as you use quality antivirus software on all your connected devices. Quality protection software not only keeps malicious files away from your loved ones but also often offers parental controls that allow you to spot when your loved ones are being somehow harassed online. Keeping a fresh eye on the loved ones has never been easier.

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