My 13-year-old daughter is online every night chatting with her friends. It seems harmless, and she often shows me some of the silly things her friends say. I do want her to be safe online. What should I be doing? How can I protect her from cyberbullying? -- For Online Safety


About one-third of girls your daughter's age are very likely to say that they have observed someone being mean to others online. This is a form of cyberbullying, along with gossiping, spreading false rumors, excluding peers from an online group and sending rude messages. Your daughter needs to understand that acting cruelly to others in any way online is cyberbullying. Online attacks are especially cruel because they can live for a long time on computers and cellphones.

One of the best ways to protect your daughter from cyberbullying is by having a warm and loving relationship with the child. You want her to be able to speak to you about any bullying so you can work out a plan to deal with it. It is unfortunate, but only about one-third of children who are bullied notify adults.

There are also practical things that your daughter needs to know in order to be safe online: (1) A password should never be shared with others. (2) She should tell you right away about any online experiences that hurt her feelings. (3) Incidences of bullying can be reported to social websites.

On the practical side, you should remind your child to treat others online as she would like to be treated in order to avoid being a cyberbully herself. And do limit your child's time online. The more time children spend online, the higher the possibility of their being bullied.