October is the month of witches, ghouls and goblins, and all things scary. School is clearly underway by now, bringing our daily routines back on track. October is also the month to take a step back and examine some of our behaviors- both online and off.
The internet is one of the most informative and powerful tools we all have access to. We’ve made technological strides I personally would have thought impossible just 5 years ago. While the internet is such an incredible network, we’re still learning how to keep ourselves safe online, and consequently, we’re continuing to educate ourselves as to why online safety is mandatory. Take a moment this month to re-evaluate your online safety habits, making yourself a more responsible and secure online citizen.
- Keep passwords secure and hard to hack. Read about tips and tricks here.
- Keep your browser and operating system current and up-to-date.
- Communicate! Keep an open dialog with anyone in your household about cyber security.
- Review and instill a cyber security contract like- the one here.
- Use privacy settings and limit the amount of personal information shared on various platforms.
- Double and triple check a post before its published.
- Never share a photo you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see.
- Only shop on secured sites.
Now that you feel confident in your online security, its time to focus on another issue, and one that none of us are immune to. Bullying, both online and IRL is a real problem. According to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, 1 out of 4 students suffers from bullying, and 64% of bullied students never report the abusive behavior. I think its safe to say everyone knows someone or has been bullied themselves. Knowing the warning signs of someone who’s being bullied can make a huge difference in their life and situation at hand. Some of these warning signs include-
- Change or loss of friendships
- Change in academic grades.
- Loss in personal interests.
- Physical changes like frequent headaches or illnesses.
- Fear of going to school or participating in other activities.
- Changes in sleeping habits.
- Self destructive behavior.
If you know someone who’s being bullied, or are suffering yourself, you need to take action because the problem most likely won’t go away. There are several things you can do to help a loved one or yourself.
-Keep all evidence of any texts, images, posts, etc.
-Tell a trusted adult
-Be supportive and understanding
-Keep an open line of communication
For more information on how to help please visit stopbullying.gov
Keeping the real life ghouls at bay by safeguarding yourself against online dangers and bullies is possible. Staying cyber safe and aiding those who suffer at the hands of bullies are tasks we’re all responsible for, and it can be done! Make this October the safest one yet.
About Heather Bowcutt
Heather is the is the primary author of the Kids Email blog, where she offers safety and parenting tips, for when the kids are online and off.
Kidsemail.org is an award-winning, safe email service for kids. Use Kids Email to safeguard your children from language, predators, images, and video, while keeping them connected to loved ones and learning about technology in a safer environment.