Do internet safety contracts really work to help with cyber bullying?

I often get asked by parents if internet safety contracts, or some other such tool, is a good idea or just a waste of time for helping their child deal with cyber bullies or cyber harassment.
internet safety contracts

Do internet safety contracts really work to help with cyber bullying?

Many parents seem to feel that the use of such a tool is simply a waste of time and that their kids just will not follow the rules if they are not being monitored all the time.

My answer is always the same: of course it’s a good idea to use a safety contract if you are actually going to discuss its components in detail with your children and why each part is important.

Unfortunately, what happens is many parents use a tool like this as just another means by which to lecture their kids and intend to use the contract as potential weapon against them if they ever get caught violating the agreement.

The question I always ask is: are you, the parent, going to explain to your children the components of the contract, why each component is important, and actually live up to the terms of the agreement yourself? If a parent agrees then I always recommend that they use a comprehensive and well-written safety contract.

Of course I recommend the safety contract that I developed and which is included in both my anti-bully and anti cyber bully programs that are available online.

Additionally, I always reinforce to children that they are not going to get in trouble if they tell their parents when they come across something bad on the internet or if they are being harassed, bullied or threatened while they are online. I even go to great lengths to explain to parents that it is vital that they do not punish their children if the child brings a website, post, text, video, etc. to their attention, especially if it is a first time offense.

However, I have talked to several children who have told me that their parents got mad at them and punished them for bringing such situations to their parent’s attention, even if there was an agreement in place, it was accident, and it was the first time.

Now, being a parent myself, I do understand that not all stories told by children are one hundred percent factual (I hope for fifty percent). However, I know there are plenty of times when parents do break their own word and punish their children for a first time offense.

Here is the big take-away.

If you break your word to your child after you have signed an agreement with them (again providing it is a first offense) and actually punish them for telling you about something pornographic, vulgar, harassing, etc. then you, the parent, will become a major cause of distrust and disrespect between you and your child.

Another key point to the effective use of a safety contract is that it is very important that both parents, not just one, are on the same page and fully aware of the agreement and that both parents are in complete agreement about how to handle a cyber problem that is reported to them by their children.

If both parents handle the problem differently, then they should not be surprised when their children tell one parent one story and then tell the other parent a different story or nothing at all.

Many times it is the parents’ fault if their children will not talk to them or confide in them. Break your child’s trust and see how fast your relationship with that child breaks down.

So is an internet safety contract a valuable tool?

Absolutely, if it is used as a tool and both the child and the parents thoroughly go through the agreement and explain what each item means and why it is important.

If children understand the why, they are much more likely to follow through with an agreement than if they are just told they have to do something.

Expert Author Brett LechtenbergBrett Lechtenberg has been teaching anti-bully skills to children and adults for almost twenty years and is the author and creator of The Anti-Bully Program and the Anti Cyber Bully Program. For more information about Brett's anti-bully trainings check out http://www.antibullyprogram.com or go to http://www.brettlechtenberg.com. Article Source

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