Web Exclusive: Protecting your children from social media bullying

(CNN) - Parents, do you know what internet sites your kids are using beyond just Facebook and Instagram? There are some sites and apps where your kids may be vulnerable to cyber bullying.

Unfortunately cyber bullying appears to be widespread in our country. Many parents do their best to monitor well-known sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but parents, there are some other popular sites out there where kids may become the targets of bullies. 


Parents are usually the first line of defense for stopping cyber bullying and the key to prevention is knowing where to look and staying up on the online trends. Authorities tell CNN that there are a few new sites out there you'll want to check out because they've seen a big uptick in bullying online. Those include lesser-known apps like: Ask.fm, Kik and Snapchat 

The reason why bullying seems to be growing on these apps is because a lot of them allow anonymous posts, so the chatters can take on different online identities. Snapchat messages can vanish after a certain period time, so there's no online trail. 

While many of these sites are still largely unknown to parents, they're known widely among tweens and teens, so there is little chaperoning online which is of course what has authorities so worried.    

The sites say they're doing what they can to stand up to bullies. Ask.fm says it's updating safety and privacy policies to ensure that its "abuse and inappropriate content reporting systems are among the most effective in the industry." Meanwhile, a spokesman for Kik says the safety of its users is paramount and, among other things, it has developed a parent's guide to provide information about "how parents can help their teens have a safe experience on the site." Snapchat says it also has safety features in place and it offers a guide for parents that includes information on how to protect their children online. 

If you are a parent that is not really tech-savvy, experts still say to do your research. Also, enlist the help of other parents or friends that may be up on the latest trends and newest apps and sites that your kids may be using. Ultimately the key is communication with your kids.
Ask them what sites and apps they are using. Open a dialogue, so they know the expectations and can help identify bullying themselves.



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