First day of cyberschool
Then comes the second, fifth, or 10th grade
Kaspersky traditionally supports the annual Digital Lesson initiative in Russian schools. We used to offer lessons face-to-face, but now provide a more efficient virtual simulator for schoolchildren. Even more importantly, we have developed a set of materials for teachers to help children master the basics of cybersecurity. The materials and simulator are in Russian, as are the lessons.
The simulator features three scenarios and a choice of three characters: a mathematician, an artist, or a biologist. Each character has a goal and needs to complete several tasks to achieve it. By playing age-appropriate games, children learn:
why you shouldn’t connect to free Wi-Fi hotspots;
what to do if someone has hacked your account;
how to prevent fraudsters from withdrawing money from your card or bank account;
how to secure your devices against viruses;
how to tell the difference between a legitimate and a phishing website.
Cyberbullying: the real-life consequences
Despite the fact that cyberbullying takes place in the digital space, it has tangible consequences for children in the physical world. Only 5% of parents said that cyberbullying had no visible consequences for their children. The most common consequences of cyberbullying for children (according to parents) include:
Extreme stress55 %
Lowered self-esteem45 %
Decline in academic performance40 %
Reduced social activity35 %
Insomnia/problems sleeping20 %
To show how easily cyberbullying gets out of hand, Kaspersky’s German office joined the Deutschland sicher im Netz association (DsiN, "Germany Safe on the Web") to conduct an experiment in several secondary schools in Munich. The students were divided into two groups and tasked with discussing a school trip. Each group had a scenario. Group A was supposed to insist on trendy and expensive Berlin, while group B suggested going to a quiet village outside Munich. The discussion took place on a special online platform. Just a few minutes into the debate, tempers started to flare. A popular boy from Group A started behaving aggressively. His groupmates were quick to join him. Soon any constructive communication ended. All of the students became either "bullies" or "victims". The aggression then escaped the confines of the school chat.
The experiment proved that conflicts can quickly get out of hand, even in a friendly environment. In the end, the authors of the experiment helped the children to reconcile with each other. They also explained how to detect and to combat cyberbullying.
5 signs that your child is a victim of bullying
- 1. Your child’s disposition and behavior have drastically changed. They avoid going outside, look depressed, or have lost their appetite. They use their phone less, get tense if they hear a message alert and hesitate before reading the message.
- 2. Your child has suddenly deleted all of their accounts on social networks and online games, possibly in an attempt to avoid abuse.
- 3. Your child seems to have developed a lot of phobias. Any activity scares them. They avoid going anywhere — be it school, a hobby club, a movie theater, or a shopping mall.
- 4. Your child has become withdrawn. You have noticed their reluctance to talk. They used to enjoy traditional family evenings watching a movie or playing board games together, but now they refuse to participate and tend to spend time on their own.
- 5. Finally, you may notice insulting comments or images on your child’s social media pages. Check their friends’ profiles, as there could be offensive content there too. If you see cyberbullying, you need to help your child deal with it as soon as possible.
What to do if someone bullies your child at school or online
- - Your main objective is to support your child.
- - Talk to your child calmly and sincerely, without putting them under pressure or telling them off. You need to find out as many details as possible to understand the root cause and how far the problem has escalated. Explain to your child that they have done nothing wrong, and no one has the right to hurt others.
- - Gather as much information as possible to be ahead of the game. It is best if you do this together with your child, by approaching it as a common problem. Refer to Kids Safety by Kaspersky for relevant articles and videos.
- - If the bullying is limited to your child’s class or school, do not hesitate to raise the issue with the headteacher or the school principal.
- - If the bullying is occurring in cyberspace, try to remove unpleasant messages from public access. Remember to save a screenshot before deleting them. Report the users who are insulting your child to the administrators of groups where the bullying occurs and the online service’s technical support.
Maintain a trusting relationship with your child so that they can approach you with any problem. No matter how harshly they are being treated at school or in social media, they need to be sure their parents will always protect them.
For future consideration
Remind your child about the risks they can encounter online. For instance, explain to them why it is dangerous to disclose their home address, school, or phone number. Tell them why they should not exchange messages with strangers, let alone share photos or details of their daily routine, their parents’ work, or other personal information.
It is also a good idea to explore parental control tools, which can help you protect your child from trouble. Be careful not to overdo it as you still need to respect your child’s privacy. For instance, our application, Kaspersky Safe Kids, analyzes user behavior on social networks. You won’t get access to your child’s messages, but the application will alert you if they contain any red-flag words. You can also protect your child from undesirable content, make sure they are not being drawn into suspicious activities and block all adult websites. We cooperate with a team of psychologists to offer efficient techniques for helping your child through our application.