Ryan Moreau, an Internet safety expert and panelist with Kiwi Commons, answers questions about cyberbullying.

Q: What steps should I take if my child is being cyberbullied?

A: There are some easy steps you can follow if your child is being cyberbullied. Let her know to come to you first, and then assess the level of severity and type of bully. If the cyberbullying is at a high level of severity—threatening physical harm to your child, her family and friends, etc.—it may be appropriate to contact the local police department, especially if the cyberbully is anonymous. If you or your child knows the cyberbully, it would appropriate to contact school administration and have them handle approaching the bully’s parents. Engaging with the cyberbully directly can escalate the situation, so make sure your child does not respond to or delete messages from a cyberbully. This evidence can be kept as a record of the malicious behavior, while disengaging helps prevent additional negative material from surfacing. Cyberbullying is easier to prevent than to fix, so change any account information and have your child turn off the computer. By walking away, she'll become less accessible to bullying and harassment, and be affected less by the situation. Assure them that life goes on without a Facebook profile!

Q: How can I tell if my child is a victim of cyberbullying?

A: The most important things you can ask yourself or your child are: (1) is the behavior directed at your child specifically, and (2) is it repetitive behavior or a one-time occurrence? These two questions can also help you better define what counts as cyberbullying. Sometimes people act differently on the Internet because they feel it gives them the cover of anonymity. If this is how they act to everyone, they may be simply expressing themselves in a bad way; but if it is only towards your child, then he may be a victim of cyberbullying.

When checking into a potential cyberbullying situation, consider whether or not the behaviors are being repeated. One mean message could be a misunderstanding or misinterpretation, or even unintentional. However, if you find the person keeps contacting your child with the behavior over and over, it's likely an attempt to be a bully.

Q: What's a good age for me to start educating and talking to my kids about Internet safety?

A: It is never too soon for you to begin educating your children about Internet safety.  As soon as a child begins using the computer, it’s a good time for you to begin discussions about online activity. Before age 10, you should be a guide and a direct part of her Internet use. After age 10, you should be engaging in a regular dialogue with your kids about their online usage, habits, and whereabouts. This open dialogue is the key to ensure your kids will speak to you about any potential for future issues, such as cyberbullying, they come across them online.

Q: How can we make our family computer safer for our kids?

A: There a few things you can do as parents to make sure your family computer is safe for your kids to use on a regular basis. First, keep the computer in a public space of the home. A kitchen, family room, or any high-traffic area will allow you to see what kind of activity is taking place on the computer. Next, establish a set of guidelines for your kids to follow. This allows you the opportunity to check in regularly on how your children are following or not following the guidelines, while also opening the discussion for what they’re doing and seeing online. Lastly, ensure that all security and safety settings are enabled on the programs your kids use. Ask them to explain their privacy settings on social media channels—and the importance of using these settings.

KiwiCommons.com is a free Internet safety resource for parents and educators.