FBI Portland
Beth Anne Steele
(503) 460-8099
September 12, 2017

Building a Digital Defense Against Cyber Bullies

Downloadable file: TT - Cyber Bullies - RUSSIAN Written
Downloadable file: TT - Cyber Bullies - RUSSIAN Audio
Downloadable file: TT - Cyber Bullies - SPANISH Written
Downloadable file: TT - Cyber Bullies - SPANISH Audio
Downloadable file: TT - Cyber Bullies - ENGLISH Audio

Welcome to the Oregon FBI's Tech Tuesday segment. This week: building a digital defense to protect your kids from cyber bullying.

Last week we talked about cell phone safety with some important tips on keeping your kids' devices locked down and privacy settings high.

But no matter how much care you take, that phone can serve as an open door to cyber bullies.

Here are some basic phone tips to keep your child safe:

* Talk early and often to your students about the dangers that they may find on the other end of the line. If your child is old enough to carry a phone to school, he is old enough to have a frank discussion with you. Be open and responsive. If your child does encounter a bully or other disturbing content, you want him to feel like he can come to you to for help.

* Ensure that your child is sharing every social media account and instant messaging service she has with you, including the passwords.

* Check those accounts—as well as instant messaging programs and texts—for disturbing content on a regular basis. You and your kids should have a non-negotiable understanding that this access is a requirement for continued phone use.

* Make sure your child is using appropriate screen names. "Babygirl2005" and "sweet16" may sound cute and innocent, but they can be a beacon to predators.

* Talk to your kids about what constitutes appropriate language and photos. If they would be embarrassed—or worse— to see what they wrote or posted on a billboard outside their home or school, they shouldn't send it. It is crucial that they understand that just because something starts out as a private communication between two people does not mean that it can't be shared with thousands of people in mere seconds. One sexually explicit photo can change a life forever.

* Teach them to program the privacy settings on social media feeds to the highest level and to reject any "friend requests" from those they don't know and trust in a face-to-face relationship.

* Teach your kids to think about every message they send and consider whether it is dangerous, hurtful, or rude before hitting send. Every kid has the potential to get swept up in the emotions of the moment and may say or do something online that they wouldn't do in real life.

Parents think of it this way: Would you let an unknown person come in through your front door? Leave hurtful messages in your front yard? Make threats against your child while she is alone in her bedroom? Of course not. Today's technology means you have to parent your child in both the real world and the virtual world, and that takes work and perseverance.

Bottom line: be aware, be involved, and be educated.

If you or your child has been victimized by an online crime, make a report to the FBI. You can file an online report at the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.