Beware of Cyber Bullying

As much fun as cyberspace provides, the anonymity it offers also makes it a dangerous place where bullies can lurk.

That’s why it’s important for parents to be involved with their kids’ online activities, said Kathy Thomas, Ph.D., director of pediatric neuropsychology at Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa.

“Bullies can spew venom, and it can be damaging psychologically,” she said. “The core job of parenting is to make sure you protect your kids because they can get sideswiped in a really bad way.”

She suggests parents monitor activity on all accounts — email, Facebook and Twitter — and become a friend or follower, where applicable. And if a child is bullied, suggests ignoring any provocations, using blocking and abuse-reporting tools, and saving any evidence in case the situation worsens.

To keep kids from being bullied, or from participating in bullying behaviors, Thomas said it’s wise to address the following:

Permanence: “There are long-term repercussions of social networking,” she said. “Kids don’t realize they’re setting down a permanent track record and it’s discoverable.” A post can be removed, but who knows how many people, in any number of places, saw it — or printed it or posted it — before it was taken down.

Courtesy: Remind kids that the Golden Rule applies online. Encourage them to report inappropriate or bad behavior or any bullying, whether it’s against them or someone else, and let them know you’re there to help.

Respect: “What one kid may think is harmless or funny may not be harmless or funny to someone else,” Thomas said. “When in doubt, ask permission.” The virtual world makes it easy to say and do things because we’re not looking someone in the eye and getting feedback, she added.

8 sites where kids can get connected

Why should big  people have all the fun on the Internet? Fact is, they don’t! Here are a few cyber-sites where kids can have fun playing and learning while in a safe online environment:

1. Club Penguin

2. Everloop

3. Free Realms

4. Giant Hello

5. Kidzrocket

6. Kidzui

7. Kidzworld

8. Whyville