Internet Safety for Children

Preventing Cyberbullying , Ages 7 to 11

By Mrs. Elizabeth Geiling, MSED, LMHC, LCC Psychotherapist 

Being a Savvy Parent
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Children’s and teen’s suicide statistics have almost doubled in the last decade. There are many reasons for this increase but one predominant theory is cyberbullying and other predatory internet actions, considered especially dangerous because of the potential for anonymity. Be a savvy parent by using these guidelines:

If you are technologically limited, make an effort to learn and continue learning. Most communities offer adult education courses. The Apple Store offers free training when you purchase a computer. If these options are not possible, ask someone to teach you.

Setting Limits
Place the computer in a central location where you are able to observe your child. The computer should not be in the child’s bedroom. It is important to communicate the amount of screen time allowed each day. Set a timer and establish consequences for time violations. An excellent consequence is to take away screen time for the next day. If your child has a cell phone, set similar restrictions on phone calls and texting; do not allow them to use it at will.

Checking Up
After your child is finished online, check the browser and view the recently visited websites.  If the viewing history is cleared, they might be visiting sites that are inappropriate. If your child shuts down the web page or the computer when you walk by, chances are they are hiding something. Be clear that you will be checking in order to assure their safety.

You Need Clear Rules
Establish the rules for the internet. What websites are they allowed to visit? What social media are they allowed to use? Check all the websites that they visit. Post the rules, including time limits near the computer. This way there will be no confusion. The internet browser can be set to block certain sites and help with parental monitoring.

The Possibility of Predators
Educate your child regarding predators who are online. They should not engage in conversation with people they do not know. They should never give out their name, address, school, phone number or anything that would enable an online person to find them. Even pictures of landmarks can identify their location.  It is prudent to disable your webcam, so that children cannot engage in video chat with strangers. If you suspect a problem involving predatory behavior, bring it to the attention of the police.

Don’t Underestimate Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is dangerous for everyone involved and has been a factor in many tragedies. Everyone is at risk, bullies as well as the bullied. For the children who are being bullied, there is no refuge; it continues even after school when they return home to their families.  The child acting as bully needs as much help as the victim. Be vigilant regarding this issue, impose no tolerance and report it immediately.

Safety in the midst of  Constant Change
Social media is constantly changing. Even if you are behind the times, it is important to join and follow your child’s activity. Most social media sites have age restrictions and it is important to follow their guidelines. Parental monitoring is necessary for safety.  The landscape of technology will continue to grow and change. The safety precautions in place today will soon be outdated, and are never a substitute for you.  It is critical for parents to stay informed, be vigilant, set parameters and encourage ongoing discussions with your children regarding online behavior.

Elizabeth Geiling, MSED, LMHC, received her undergraduate degree fromConcordia College in Bronxville, NY. She received her Master’s degree and Professional Diploma in Counseling from Fordham University, NY. Mrs. Geiling holds a NY state license as a Mental Health Counselor as well as being a Certified School Psychologist and Guidance Counselor. She currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Concordia College, Bronxville, NY, teaching courses in general, developmental, abnormal and counseling psychology. Her work experience includes college, community and school counseling for individuals and groups. Mrs. Geiling counsels children, teens and families at LCC’s Bronxville and Advent, NYC counseling sites.

 Contact Lutheran Counseling Center at 1-800-317-1173 or 516-741-0994 or e-mail us at

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