Millions of Children at Risk on the Internet By Vivian age 12


Local Parents Fight Back

WASHINGTON – Sarah Ball was 15 when a friend posted on Facebook: “hate Sarah Ball, she is a waste of space.” She kept insulting her. It wasn’t till Sarah’s mother saw the messages that the girl told her everything, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports

Cheating, lying, and bullying on the internet are all commonly known to everyone. Data from China Daily shows that currently, 175 million children in China have access to the internet. That is over 93 percent. Ever since COVID-19 hit last year, more and more families are choosing online education for their children. Children also have gained more access to computers, phones, iPads and other technology services

How do we protect millions of children from being cyberbullied? Parents are trying many different strategies.

“My parents just told me just don’t add people I don’t know [as friends on social media], and they limit my time on the Internet to lessen the possibility of being added by strangers,” suggested a student at a local Beijing elementary school.

Children use the Internet to research school reports, communicate with teachers and friends or play games. However, online access also comes with risks. Online predators use apps and websites to exchange personal information or encourage children to call them.

Parents should care for their children when they are online more than ever.

Cyberbullying is one major online safety issue. What is cyberbullying? Cyberbullying is also called online bullying. Cyberbullying includes a range of shameful words and actions that take place in the digital world. The American Academy of Pediatrics gives examples such as sending mean messages to someone, sharing embarrassing pictures of them, making up and spreading untrue stories about them, telling others to ignore somebody or leave them out of activities.

What are the impacts after a child has been cyberbullied?

When kids feel they have been cyberbullied, they might have academic struggles. Kids who are bullied may avoid going to school, have trouble concentrating in class, or even drop out of school. Or they might struggle with physical and mental health: Bullying increases a child’s risk for depression, anxiety, and sleep problems. Studies show it may also put them at higher risk for substance use later in life.

Here are some expert tips from Kids Health, a US nonprofit dedicated to children’s health, to help parents and children avoid cyberbullying and other harmful online behaviours.

  • Stay safe: don’t give out your personal information to people you don’t know.
  • Don’t meet up: meeting someone you have only been in touch with online can be dangerous. Always check with an adult you trust.
  • Accepting files: accepting emails, files, pictures or texts from people you don’t know can cause problems.
  • Reliable: Check information before you believe it. Are the person or websites telling the truth?
  • Tell someone: Tell an adult if someone or something makes you feel worried or uncomfortable. Also, parents should talk to their child more often, since children don’t really want to talk to their parents about their feelings

Many local parents are already using these strategies. “My mother set this thing that doesn’t allow anyone to add me, only when I agree with it and send an invitation myself,” said Amber, another local Beijing student.

Imagine every child feeling sad and threatened, imagine them feeling scared every day, imagine all of them getting eating disorders because of these hurtful words. Parents should know the importance of cyberbullying and try to prevent that from happening.

Mr. Yu, a professor from Beijing University said, “We really should put this into action and take more interest in this problem in the future.”

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