Cyberbullying Protection & Damage Control Guide for Parents
It’s true. Bullying is not just for schoolyards anymore, and cyberbullies can have a heyday with your child’s online reputation, personal information and safety. Cyberbullies hack into accounts, compromise privacy and hijack a person’s identity, creating a stream of wicked words, photos and other content that can remain forever linked to the victim. And that content can travel fast. A Pew study noted the typical teen has 300 Facebook friends, which means a foul post could potentially reach 90,000 sets of eyes in milliseconds if every friend were to repost it. The following strategies can help protect your family’s account, preserve online reputations and fight back if the worst case scenario does indeed occur.
Protection & Prevention
Start with a passwords overhaul. Help your child create a different password for each website or platform. Strong passwords include a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters and numbers. Keep track of your child’s lineup of passwords with a password management tool, such as LastPass, that stores passwords for user access. LastPass works on most operating systems through a Web browser. It’s an ideal choice for mobile devices and desktop computers.
Logging off is another simple, vital protection maneuver. Encourage your children to make it a habit to always log out of Facebook, Twitter and mobile devices when they’re not using them. Mobile devices typically have a lock-out option that automatically locks out users after a period of inactivity; set up your child’s device to require a password to log back in. Review security settings together as a family to ensure all devices are set for maximum security.
If a cyberbully has already invaded your child’s social networking or email accounts and hijacked his or her identity, report the breach to the site’s administrators. Next, log into the hacked account and change the password. If you and you child can regain access, check the account’s settings and send out a message that warms friends and family about how the account’s been hacked. If you can’t gain access, you may have to shut down the account through the site’s admin.
Cleaning up the aftermath of cyberbullying can’t wait or be taken lightly. Online reputation management services can come to the rescue. The Web-based service Reputation.com lets you keep an eye on your child’s online persona and privacy. It assists with search result control — sinking bad-mouthing to the bottom and positive information to the top of online results pages. If bullying has been intensely nasty or seriously threatening, don’t hesitate to report the incident to the police or your child’s school to ensure the incident goes on record.