I probably don’t need to tell you about the “dangers” of online relationships and social media, nor do I need to write about trolls or bullies, which I’m guessing some of us have experienced before.
It’s terrifying and hurtful to be bullied as adults, and it must be worse as a child, especially if there’s no one to talk to, or if there doesn’t seem to be a way out.
IT security company Kaspersky Lab says that online bullying could be more intense than traditional bullying for the following reasons:
- It’s anonymous. As cyberbullying can remain faceless in an anonymous online setting it is harder to establish the bullies’ identities and to prove who is ultimately responsible. This also means that the bullies are less connected to the damage they cause and can take things further as a result.
- It’s hard to escape. Most people today have access to the Internet and all humiliating information that is stored online can theoretically be accessible forever, by everyone.
- It’s more invasive than face-to-face interaction. The bullies and the victims cannot see each other. Consequently, they are unable to see their counterparts’ facial expressions, gestures or spatial behavior. Bullies become even more detached from the damage they are causing and as a consequence they become less concerned about the feelings and opinions of others.
Here are 10 tips from Kaspersky for dealing with cyberbullying – as good for kids as they are for adults.
1: Stay calm
The first thing you must do is breathe. It might be good to walk away from your device or the social networking site where the cyberbullying is happening. Take time out. Remember that bullies usually have their own problems and are trying to make themselves feel better by attacking you. Nothing that they say is true.
2: Don’t reply
It is very important that you do not engage with the cyberbully. They are looking to infuriate and hurt you, but more than that they want you to respond to them. So NEVER give a cyberbully what they want. Ignore the comments and/or messages.
3: Take screenshots
Do not delete any of the abuse you receive online. If you need to share your story with a trusted adult, your school or the police, they may need proof of the cyberbullying in order to act. To take a screenshot of a message on a laptop or PC, press Shift and Print Screen; on a Mac, press Command, Shift and the number 3. On an Apple phone or iPad, press the lock button and the home button at the same time. On an Android phone or tablet, hold the power and volume button at the same time.
4: Tell a trusted adult
There are many people you can tell if you are being cyberbullied. Talk to the adult you feel most comfortable with. They will be able to help you through this difficult time. Remember that you do not have to and shouldn’t go through this alone. Open up and you will be provided with the necessary support and care to overcome this.
5: Block the bully
Make sure you block the bully from the relevant social networking sites. This will mean that they can’t contact you or engage with you. Even if you are only being bullied on one social networking site, it is important to block the cyberbully from all of them. This will also send a message to them that you are not going to accept what they are doing to you and how they are making you feel.
6: Report abuse
After the bully is blocked you have to report the person and the messages you have been receiving to the relevant social networking site. They will investigate what has been happening and then take relevant action against the cyberbully.
7: Confront the bully
If the bully is someone you know from your school, club, team or through mutual friends, it might be a good idea to confront them. Some cyberbullies aren’t aware of what they are doing and how it is making you feel. Don’t presume that they know. Ask them to stop what they are doing to you.
8: Take it further
If you have followed steps 1-7 and the bullying has continued or if the messages you have been receiving are posing a real and current threat to your safety, it is time to do something else about it. You may need to contact the school, club or the police. Don’t hesitate to take further action.
9. Change privacy settings
Because you have been a victim of cyberbullying, it means the privacy settings on your social networking accounts are not as secure as they should be. Make sure you change them so that only your friends can see your profile and everything you do.
10: Review friends
Once you have reviewed your privacy settings it’s important to filter through your list of ‘friends’ and remove any that you don’t know, haven’t met or don’t like. This will protect you from another incident like this happening again. In the future do not accept friend requests from people you don’t know or haven’t met in person.
It’s very important to deal with cyberbullying. Do not ignore it, or the problem will just get worse. Don’t be afraid to speak up to stamp it out.
More information and advice on how to fight cyberbullying, head to Kaspersky Lab’s educational portal: kids.kaspersky.com/cyberbullying.