We can all be a better ally on Stop Cyber Bullying Day


By Marc Allera, CEO, BT's Consumer Division

Today is Stop Cyberbullying Day. As a parent, and as CEO of BT’s Consumer brands, with which we have a purpose of Connecting for Good, I want to share some advice around how we can talk to our children about creating a kinder, more inclusive internet.

You ask your children about their friends at school, who they talked to, who said what, but how often do you ask them about their online friendships – what are they saying, and how?

The way we communicate with people online is the focus of BT’s Hope United campaign that will run throughout this summer’s European Championships. As lead partner of the Home Nations, we’re asking the UK to take a stand against hate speech on social media as well as giving everyone the knowledge and tools they need to be part of the solution.

No one should ever dread getting online in fear of abuse. Nobody should feel unsafe. Being an ally – putting yourself in the place of someone else – can be even more important online than it is in ‘real life’.

Talking regularly about children’s digital lives with a trusted adult is amazing important way to help keep them safe online. It’s not easy knowing where to start. Our partners Internet Matters provide a Conversation Starter Guide as well as a Conversation Starer Guide for Vulnerable Children to help structure your conversations.

If this is new to you, and new to your children, a few bite-sized conversations over the course of a few weeks might be a good way to introduce what should be a new norm. Make the conversation about them, and be open and encouraging to help them feel supported in a setting they are comfortable with.

A good place to start might be talking to your children about what bullying is and how people might bully others online. This can lead onto further conversations such as whether they have seen or experienced this themselves, and how it made them feel.

Finally, check that they know what to do if they experience cyberbullying and if they’d be comfortable telling you or another trustworthy adult. Cyberbullying affects children every day. Talking about can often be the first step to putting a stop to it.

I mentioned being an ally. This is something I’m encouraging all of our people to be, right across our Consumer brands. In fact, I'm asking all of my colleagues to be a Personal Ally. And by that, I mean I'm asking them to work at understanding our colleagues and customers they don’t know as well as themselves and people like them.

I'm also asking our colleagues to take action: to stand side by side with others when they need support and stand up against those we know are doing the wrong thing.

That’s something we can all do – and when better to start than Stop Cyber Bullying Day?

For more advice on keeping your children safe online, visit the online safety section of BT Skills for Tomorrow.

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @marcallera