SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – You might not know enough about your children’s online life, including whether they are victims of cyber bullying.
More than half of all children say they have been bullied online, according to Stephanie Jelley. She spoke at the “Community Conversation About Cyberbullying,” sponsored by the South Orange Rotary Club on Tuesday night at BCB Community Bank on Valley Street.
“I teach parents if you let your kids go online, you have to be responsible” for monitoring their social media, Jelley said. “If you don’t have time to do that, don’t let them go online.”
Jelley combines her passion for working with youth and her knowledge of technology to raise awareness of the impact of cyber bullying. One example she gave was that bullying on the popular social network Ask.fm led to nine suicides of children ages 8 to 12 in the United States last year. She said that in digital interactions, users “don’t know the impact (they) have” because they don’t get social cues such as facial expressions.
A major problem for parents is that there are no resources for keeping track of social networks popular with children because of rapid changes. While their parents are on Facebook, their children have moved on to Snapchat and other sites, she said.
Jelley offered these suggestions for parents:
- Limit the amount of time young users spend online
- Encourage children to ask two questions before they post anything: Is it kind? Is it necessary?
- Monitor your child’s accounts
- Talk to other parents
- Stand firm in setting rules for online use
Finally, Jelley said, it’s important for parents to set a good example.
“The most delicate conversation is about parents bullying online,” she said. Jelley said that anyone who visits an online community discussion board popular in Maplewood and South Orange will see examples of cyber bullying by adults.
Phil Stern, legal counsel for the South Orange-Maplewood School District, attended the event. He noted under state law, schools are obligated to act when they become aware of a problem, even though the bullying occurs outside of school. Each school has a designated anti-bullying specialist who is either a psychologist or a social worker.
Jelley leads a Mindfulness Ambassador Council of Columbia High School students, which is designed to encourage positive emotional development. She is the cofounder of Crowdera, a crowdfunding platform that helps nonprofit groups create viral fundraising campaigns for civic crowdfunding activities, according to crowdfundinsider.com.