Before you put that coveted cell phone under the tree for your kids, here are some recent (and sobering) statistics to keep in mind about cyberbullies:
- Cyberbullying among teens is most common among current & former friends, not strangers.
- Girls are approximately twice as likely as boys to be both the victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying.
- Cyberbullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide.
Most Dangerous Time of Day for Digital Devices
For parents looking to keep their kids safe and connected with smartphones, however, experts like Dr. Laura Choate say that the best safeguard against cyberbullies is one that many parents fail to heed: “Children who have devices in their bedrooms at night are at greater risk for negative psychological and behavioral outcomes than are kids who have limits,” says Choate, author of Swimming Upstream: Parenting Girls for Resilience in a Toxic Culture. “If your child has an Internet connected device with no supervision, it is as if he or she has all-night access to a world of material that he or she is not psychologically or cognitively prepared for. If you want to protect your child from the dangers of the Internet, this is an important step to take. Simply make it part of the deal… If you do this from the outset, it becomes an expected part of the family routine.”
Who Is at Risk To Become a Victim Cyberbullying?
Simply put, the more time your child is on a device, the greater the likelihood that they will become involved in cyberbullying. The best defense? Limit the amount of time they are on their devices. This is particularly true at night. According to a National Sleep Foundation study, almost three quarters of all US children sleep with at least one electronic device in their bedroom. Forty eight percent said they had disturbed sleep because of the urge to check phones even in the middle of the night. More than half the students said they never switched off their cell phones. Twenty-nine percent of all teens get less than 5 hours of sleep a night.
What Parents Need to Do
- Limit the amount of time your child is on a device. Research shows that teens who spend more than three hours per school day on social networks are 110% more likely to be a victim of cyberbullying compared to those who spend less time on social networks.
- Turn off all apps 1-2 hours before bed. Experts agree that blue-light emitting devices stimulate the brain and suppress the release of melatonin, the naturally occurring hormone needed for sleep.
- Create reasonable, predictable and consistent screen-time schedules with your kids and stick with them. Research shows that children and teens are far less likely to resist screen-time rules when they are consistently applied.