Since the internet is definitely a new way of life and growing daily, parents need to be aware of the extreme danger of Cyber-bullying lurking on the web. Other threats associated with cyber-bullying are cyber-stalking, cyber-harassment and pornography. Parents need to be extremely vigilant and constrain the sites which their children visit. Continuous harassment of a child can lead to serious consequences and could affect a child for life. Great care must be taken when children are allowed access to the internet, mobile phones and other electronic information transmitting media.
Here are just some of the more frequently used media for harassing children. DIRECT ATTACKS can be defined as an attack by one child or a group of children on another. There are many methods used for this type of bullying. I will briefly cover some of them here. Chat Rooms are one of the most dangerous places for children to be communicating with others. Be aware of a child’s activities in Chat Rooms as a great deal of personal information can be obtained by undesirable individuals. E-mails are also used to send derogatory, embarrassing, hate and threatening messages. Mobile Phones are capable of receiving data in a multitude of formats. Any of the available formats can be used to transmit messages ranging from lies and hate to pornography. Websites and Blogs can be created by anyone and used to transmit or convey really nasty and derogatory content which could be aimed at an individual child. Stealing Passwords will allow the perpetrator to illegally gain access to a child’s domains. There are also undesirable “pop-ups” constantly appearing on the computer screen.
As teenagers reach puberty and are fighting to control the changes within their bodies they become more susceptible to being stalked or harassed by smooth talking sickos on the internet. Pornography at this stage also becomes a dangerous factor in the life of a teenager. Children need to be protected from the dangers of cyber-bulllying and have enough trust and confidence in their parents to be able to discuss activities on the internet. Children think they are hiding in the safety of their home at their computer but there are predators seeking all the time for some mischief to perform.
There are no words which can be stressed loud enough or repeated often enough to illustrate the dangers of the internet. Although it is a very necessary medium of communication and source of information, used incorrectly it is dangerous and leaves teenagers and children vulnerable to abuse. The age, at which to stop monitoring will depend, inter alia, on how much internet guidance a child has had and how open the channels of communication are between child and parents.
The only thing worse than finding out that a child is being sexually abused is – not finding out.
With out doubt, the Internet is one of the most dangerous places to allow children total freedom. It is a cyber playground fraught with enormous, sometimes lethal dangers. Parents need to minimise the risks to which the children are exposed by equipping them with the necessary cyber education.