Where you aware that June is “Internet Safety Month?”

Throughout the month of June, Internet safety organizations, law enforcement, educators and others have been amplifying their efforts to raise the awareness level of the potential threats that lurk online, including the potential threats to our children.

As part of the effort to raise awareness, I was asked by Wired Moms to assemble a group of DC Metro bloggers for the 2010 Wired Kids Summit. This summit  is led  each year by cyberlawyer and WiredSafety Executive Director  Parry Aftab and her “Tweenangels” and “Teenangels.”  The purpose is the deliver cyber-safety research and information to government officials and various on and offline organizations. They also present awards to their favorite sites and individuals that they recognize have made the Internet safer.

I was blown away by those in attendance with me:  Facebook, Google, MTV, Disney, Nickelodeon, AOL, X-Box, Department of Homeland Security, 17 Magazine and others.  Wow, right?  It is amazing to know that these companies take cyber-safety so seriously.

Some key messages on cyberbullying, presented by the Tween and Teen Angels:

Cyberbullying is real and it is rampant. Of the 42,000 middle school students surveyed, 80% of them report that they have been cyberbullied.  Parents need talk to their children about staying safe online and what to do if it happens to them.  Teach your kids that they can’t hide behind the words they type and the images they post.

Never forget that cyberbullying hurts deeply. Most victims internalize the messages received at the hand of a bully. Parents should truly listen and try to understand the incidents.  It is incredibly important that parents become familiar with the technology their tween or teen uses so they can be familiar with the situation and be there to support their child.

Don’t react. If your child is targeted by a cyberbully, tell them not to respond.  Bullies usually are looking for a reaction from their target.  Instead, encourage your child to work with you to save the evidence and talk to you about it. If the bullying persists, share the record with school officials or local law enforcement.

A terrific resource for parents and teens on this subject is STOPCyberbullying.org

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