Cyberbullying: what is it and how to deal with it?
Experts answered the most common questions about bullying on the Internet and gave advice on how to deal with it.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is harassment using digital technologies, which can occur in social networks, messengers, gaming platforms and mobile phones. This is repetitive behavior aimed at scaring, angering, or shaming the target. Examples of cyberbullying include:
spreading false information about the victim or publishing compromising photos and videos of the target in social networks;
sending abusive or threatening messages, images or videos to the victim;
sending abusive messages to the victim on someone else’s behalf or through fake accounts.
Unlike bullying and bullying in real life, cyberbullying leaves a digital footprint on the Internet — a record that is evidence that helps stop violence.
- Am I being bullied on the Internet? How to distinguish a joke from bullying?
All friends joke with each other, but sometimes it’s hard to understand – someone is just having fun or trying to hurt you, especially on the Internet.
If the joke offended you or you think that others are laughing at you, and not with you, then the joke has gone too far. If this continues even after you have asked the person to stop, then it may be bullying.
If you feel bad and it doesn’t stop, then you should ask for help. Ending cyberbullying means that everyone deserves respect — online and in real life.
- What can cyberbullying lead to?
When bullying happens online, it can feel like you are being attacked everywhere, even in your own home. It seems that there is no way out. It can last a long time and affect a person in different ways:
Psychologically – anxiety, embarrassment, feeling of fear or anger;
Emotionally – feeling ashamed or losing interest in the things you love;
Physically — fatigue, insomnia, abdominal pain and headaches.
The feeling that you are being laughed at or harassed may prevent you from speaking out or trying to solve the problem. In extreme cases, cyberbullying can even lead to suicide.
- How does cyberbullying affect mental health?
If you have become a victim of cyberbullying, you may begin to experience the following feelings:
uncertainty about what people say or think about you. This can lead to alienation from friends and family, negative thoughts and conversations with yourself, and a constant sense of guilt for your actions.;
loss of motivation to do what you love;
frequent absenteeism at school. This is a common problem arising from cyberbullying, which leads to the use of alcohol, drugs and aggressive behavior.
- Who should I contact if I have become a victim of cyberbullying?
You should ask for help from people you trust. These can be:
parents and family members;
a school psychologist or your favorite teacher;
professional consultant of the trust service;
support service, if harassment occurs in a social network;
police, if you are in immediate danger.
- I am subjected to cyberbullying, but I am afraid to talk about it with my parents. How can I talk to them?
If you are faced with bullying, talking to an adult with whom you feel safe is one of the most important first steps you can take
Choose a time to talk when parents can listen to you. Explain how serious your problem is. Keep in mind that parents may not understand some aspects related to technology. Try to explain it to them in simple language.
- How can I help my friends if they have been bullied on the Internet?
It is important to listen carefully to your friend. If he doesn’t want to report the harassment to anyone, then find out the reason. Explain to him that he is not obliged to report this, but it is very important to talk to someone who can help.
Help him think about what he can say and to whom. Offer to go with him if he decides to report it. Most importantly, show him that you are there and want to help.
If your friend still doesn’t want to report cyberbullying, help him find a trusted adult who will help him cope with the situation. Remember that in certain situations, the consequences of cyberbullying can be life-threatening.
- How to stop bullying without giving up the Internet?
If you encounter harassment online, you can delete certain applications or temporarily stop using the Internet to give yourself time to recover. But abandoning the Internet is not a long–term solution.
- How can I prevent the use of my personal information for manipulation or humiliation in social networks?
Think twice before sharing anything on digital platforms – it will remain online and can be used against you during bullying. Do not share your personal data with anyone, such as your address, phone number and place of study/work.
Set up the privacy of your social media profile. Here are some actions you can take:
Set up lists of people who can see your profile, send you messages or comment on your posts;
You can complain about offensive comments, messages and media files, and request their removal;
You can completely block the user offending you so that he can no longer write to you.
- Is there a penalty for cyberbullying?
Laws against harassment on the Internet have been adopted recently and still do not exist everywhere. Therefore, to punish cyberbullying, many countries rely on other relevant laws, for example, against harassment.
In countries with special laws on cyberbullying, online behavior that intentionally causes serious emotional distress is considered criminal activity. In some of these countries, victims of cyberbullying are provided with protection.
- Are technology companies obliged to fight harassment and harassment on the Internet?
Technology companies are actively fighting the problem of cyberbullying. Many are introducing new tools to protect users, releasing manuals that describe ways to report abuse on the Internet.
But these measures are not enough. Young users face harassment on a daily basis. Moreover, cyberbullying even leads some people to suicide. Technology companies have a duty to protect their users, especially children and young people. Companies should be held accountable if they fail to perform their duties.
- What are the ways to combat cyberbullying?
Each social network offers different privacy settings that allow you to block the user, hide your page, etc. We wrote about them above.
Also, many social networks provide educational tools and recommendations for children, parents and teachers to tell them about the risks and ways to ensure security on the Internet.
In addition, you can protect someone from being bullied online. Think about who from your environment may be a victim of cyberbullying, and how you can help them and draw attention to the problem.
In addition, in many countries there is a special help line where you can call for free and talk to a psychologist anonymously.