Keeping your children safe online seems as simple as setting parental controls and keeping a close eye doesn’t it? I thought so, but recently I realised it simply isn’t.
I wish I could say I read or watched something that made me rethink how I tackle internet safety. I’d love to say that the closest we’ve come to cyber-bullying is the odd troll on Twitter/Facebook.
Unfortunately I can’t. Last week my daughter Mia, nearly 7, was targeted on the online game Roblox.
Roblox is an online game played by people of all ages, but aimed at children. Mia had been playing Roblox and using the chat feature to talk to her friends from school who also played for around 6 months before things turned sour.
Although sensitive, she is very mature, so I let her play on the grounds that I checked the game and the messages she was sending/receiving a few times a week. She was over the moon, and loved being able to talk to her friends outside of school.
All was fine, until last week when I walked into the bedroom and she instantly turned her tablet screen away from my sight. I immediately knew something wasn’t right and took her tablet from her.
‘Go die, your ugly’ was just one of the messages I found…
At first I thought the messages had been sent by a friend, but I soon discovered that the sender had told Mia she was a friend from her class when actually, she wasn’t. When Mia had asked ‘Are you ****** from school?’ the sender replied ‘of course I am’. Being a naive six-year-old, Mia accepted the response and continued to play with her.
Some of the messages had been sent 2-3 weeks previous to my discovery and it was then that I realised I hadn’t checked it for a while. I felt angry at myself for not being aware, I felt like a failure.
The game was immediately deleted and the appropriate actions were taken so that whoever sent those vile messages cannot target another child. Mia fully understands why she can no longer play, she is a child who is very aware of what a cruel world we live in and she seemed incredibly accepting of the situation and moved on from it quickly.
I’m immensely proud of how she handled the situation but I can’t shake the feeling that I let her down…
If your child plays Roblox, please remove it from their device. There are some cruel people out there and I’d hate for another child to be a victim of such nastiness. I’m sharing our experience to educate other parents and warn them of the dangers of Roblox.
What do I do if my child is being bullied online?
- Reassure your child that they are not at fault.
- Listen to your child’s thoughts and feelings about the situation.
- Put your own feelings aside around your child.
- Make the appropriate authority for example, school, aware. #
- Remove any access your child may have to the bully, in our case, Roblox.
- Be patient. Not just with your child, but yourself.
- Keep calm – help is more likely to be offered if you approach the situation in a calm manner.
- Gather any evidence you have of the bullying taking place.
- Allow those dealing with the bully time to deal with the incident(s).