On the Internet, anyone can be a bully. Cyberbullying is a serious issue, but you can protect yourself against the digital drama. Check out these tips for standing against cyberbullying:
- Don’t respond. If someone bullies you, remember that your reaction is usually exactly what the bully wants. It gives him or her power over you. Who wants to empower a bully?
- Don’t retaliate. Getting back at the bully turns you into one and reinforces the bully’s behaviour. Help avoid a whole cycle of aggression.
- Save the evidence. The only good news about digital bullying is that the harassing messages can usually be captured, saved, and shown to someone who can help. You need to do this even if it’s minor stuff, in case things escalate. Screenshot anything that you think could be cyber bullying and keep a record of it on your computer or phone.
- Talk to someone you trust. You deserve backup. It’s always good to involve a parent but – if you can’t – a school counsellor usually knows how to help. Sometimes both are needed. If you’re really nervous about saying something, see if there’s a way to report the incident anonymously at school. If somebody is threatening you, giving out your personal information or making you fear for your safety, contact the Police or an adult as soon as you can.
- Block the bully. If the harassment’s coming in the form of instant messages, texts, or profile comments, do yourself a favour: use preferences or privacy tools to block the person. If it’s in chat, leave the “room.”
- Be private. Keep your social media privacy settings high and don’t connect with anybody who you don’t know offline. People may not always be who they say they are and you could be putting yourself and those that you care about the most at risk.
- Be civil. Even if you don’t like someone, it’s a good idea to be decent and not sink to the other person’s level. Also, research shows that gossiping about and trash talking others increases your risk of being bullied. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Sometimes it may be appropriate to request that a teacher or responsible adult hosts a mediation between you and the person who is bullying you online. A mediation can be scary but is often incredibly powerful. It is essentially a face-to-face conversation in a controlled, equal environment between you and the person bullying you.
- Don’t be a bully. How would you feel if someone harassed you? You know the old saying about walking a mile in someone’s shoes; even a few seconds of thinking about how another person might feel can put a big damper on aggression. That’s needed in this world.
- Be a friend, not a bystander. Watching or forwarding mean messages empowers bullies and hurts victims even more. If you can, tell bullies to stop or let them know harassment makes people look stupid and mean. It’s time to let bullies know their behaviour is unacceptable – cruel abuse of fellow human beings. If you can’t stop the bully, at least try to help the victim and report the behaviour.
For links to some great resources for dealing with cyberbullying and being more Social Media Savvy, click here.