Nasty text messages, insulting comments on Facebook, exposing photos or videos spreaded quickly on social media or online services – unfortunately, cyberbullying is daily life for many teenagers.
Ways To Act When Becoming A Victim Of Cyberbullying
If you’ve been a victim of cyberbullying, you are not alone, and you are not powerless. According to a report from the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics about 21 percent of U. S. students from ages 12 to 18 experienced bullying. A large portion of this occurred online. Here are some ways to fight back cyberbullying:
Helpful Hints against Cyberbulling:
- Act strong and confident. You are stronger than the bully’s negativity, and you will get through this tough time. The more you believe positive affirmations (eg. You are kind. You matter.), the more easily you will be able to minimize the noise from bullies.
- Do not take comments to heart. Easier said than done, of course. Surround yourself with people who love you who can remind you of your many amazing qualities.
- Block or delete cyberbullies. You don’t need that negativity in your life.
- If you must, get off social media altogether. Instead of wasting time on social media, spend your time on positive pursuits, such as hobbies, sports, or real friendships.
- Download the FamilyApp. It’s a great resource to chat with friends and family members in a safe, encrypted forum. You can still participate in social media activities, without any bully knowing of your online presence.
- Do not give the bullies’ comments power by reacting to them online. It might fuel the fire, so don’t let them see your reaction, if you can help it.
- Keep a good record of bullying evidence. Save screenshots, text messages etc.
- Talk about it. Find an adult you trust, such as a school counselor, parent, or teacher. Bullies thrive in the darkness, so shine a light on this behavior in order to stop it.
- Read up on laws and regulations. In some cases, you might need to pursue legal action regarding cyberbullying. Know your rights, and a good lawyer.
- Contact the police for advice. Even if your child isn’t being physically assaulted, cyberbullying could require police intervention in some extreme cases.
The Changing Faces of a Bully
In the past, we had the caricature of a large, oafish school bully who would pick on some weak defenseless child in the classroom. Or maybe the “mean girls” exchanging negative whispers directed at some unsuspecting victim. Today, with the ubiquity of the internet, cyberbullying has elevated these behaviors to a whole new level.
Bullying and cyberbullying are very similar to each other, but the methods vary. In general, bullying means intentionally harming a person over a long period of time by aggressive behavior that causes them mental or physical harm.
Bullying can happen just about anywhere people live or work together. Bullies usually love to pick on someone who’s different or doesn’t quite fit in with everyone else- maybe they’re the token redhead in a sea of brunettes. Or maybe their clothes aren’t the right style? No matter the reason, bullies make life miserable for their victim.
Dangers of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullies usually use similar criteria for picking on their victim, but aren’t confined to the real world. Cyberbullying takes many forms, including defamation, theft, harassment, or compulsion. It utilizes electronic devices as a means of communication.
The internet – and with its anonymity – lowers the bar for assaulting a person. When you can’t see the other person’s face, it’s much easier to insult or spread lies about them. But boundaries are fluid.
Teenagers often do not have a sense of guilt- especially when they can’t see the reaction of a person they hurt. They see their own behavior as “making fun”, not cyberbullying. They don’t think about consequences for the victims. Another dangerous issue is the sheer impossibility to delete things from the internet. The internet never forgets.
People share Instagram or Facebook photos at lightning speed, with the potential of thousands laughing about an unflattering photo or writing hurtful comments. Since every smartphone is capable of taking screenshots, even Snapchat conversations can live on forever.
Cyberbullying is a Problem – Teach Your Children About the Consequences
Don’t downplay cyberbullying, as “kids being kids,” or “not a big deal.” It can wreak havoc on the victim’s daily life. In extreme cases, cyberbullying causes children to change schools since they can’t cope with the constant harassment from peers. There are even instances of cyberbullying resulting in teen suicide.
Parents should teach their children to be careful on the internet and when sending text messages. Educating your family about consequences and safety on the internet is very important – from both views as a victim and a perpetrator.