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Keeping kids safe

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

When you go to bed at night, you lock your doors and make sure the stove is off to keep your family safe. But what are you doing to keep your children safe on the internet?

AAS hosted a parent talk headlined by Renée Green, High School Dean of Student Life at Singapore American School (SAS) , and George Kwai, Assistant Attaché, US Homeland Securities Investigation (HSI). What they had to say would make your toes curl.

How pervasive is cyberbullying?

First, the talk covered the dangers of the internet for kids. Cyberbullying continues to grow across the globe at an alarming rate. Some studies show that 1 in 5 kids report being cyberbullied.

Cyberstalking or cyber sexual assaults involves an adult and perpetrators often have more than one victim which is why these cases should always be reported to the authorities. These incidents happen in Singapore, too. While Singapore may be safer than many countries when it comes to physical violence, the internet has no borders.

In many ways, cyberbullying is harder than old-fashioned bullying. That's because cyberbullying doesn't just happen at school. The internet is 24/7 and so is cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can also grow far behind the immediate circle of friends, escalating into a situation that is hard to escape.

At the talk, George told us about Amanda Todd, a girl who was tormented for years online. George showed a heart-wrenching video she made where she tells her story through cue cards. Not long after the video was made, Amanda killed herself to escape the years of psychological damage from cyberstalking.

How to keep your kids safe

The most important thing is to be a part of your kids' digital lives. Your job as a parent is not to be liked by your kids. Your job is to keep them safe which means sometimes you have to do some things that won't make you very popular with your kids – like reading their texts and checking on their social media; taking devices out of their rooms at night; and talking with them about hard truths. You need to be actively involved in what they are doing online. Don't let your kids keep their devices in their rooms.

What to look for

As a parent, it's hard to know when your kid is being bullied. Unlike the old days when a kid who was bullied on the playground walked in with a black eye, cyberbullying is harder to recognize. And yes, both boys and girls can be bullied online. Here are some signs to look for:

  • being emotionally upset during or after using the Internet or the phone

  • being very secretive or protective of one's digital life

  • spending more time than usual in their room

  • withdrawal from or lack of interest in family members, friends, and activities

  • avoiding school or group gatherings

  • slipping grades and "acting out" in anger at home

  • changes in mood, behavior, sleep, or appetite

  • suddenly wanting to stop using the computer or device

  • being nervous or jumpy when getting a message, text, or email

  • avoiding discussions about computer or phone activities

What to do if your kid is cyberbullied
  • offer comfort and support

  • let your child know it’s not their fault

  • notify the school

  • report adult perpetrators

  • encourage your child not to respond

  • keep records

  • block the bully

  • limit access to technology

  • monitor use of social media

  • be a part of your child’s online world

Further Resources

This article has some great information about cyberbullying as well as links to good resources. This is also a good place to find more information about how to talk to your children and limit their media access.

Here also is a list of additional resources that Renée specifially suggested:

AAS in conjunction with SAS and HSI hopes to offer a similar talk geared towards teens in the Spring.


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