What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying involves using technology, like mobile phones and the internet, to bully or harass another person. Children with technology have access to their friends and enemies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It can be very damaging to young people. It can lead to anxiety, depression, and even suicide. Also, once content is shared and circulated, it may never disappear, resurfacing at later times to renew the pain of cyberbullying.
Types of Cyberbullying:-
Sending mean messages or threats to a person’s email account or mobile phone
Spreading rumours online or through texts
Posting hurtful or threatening messages on social networking sites or websites
Stealing a person’s account information to break into their account and send damaging messages
Taking unflattering pictures of a person and spreading them through mobile phones or the internet
Sexting or circulating sexually suggestive pictures or messages about a person.
Repercussions and Consequences
Many cyberbullies think that bullying others online is funny. Cyberbullies may not realise the consequences for themselves of cyberbullying. Content that most young people post online now may reflect badly on them later when they apply for college or a job. Also, cyberbullies and their parents may face legal charges for cyberbullying. If the content was sexual in nature or involved sexting, the results can include being registered as a sex offender. Young people may think that if they use a fake name they won’t get caught, but there are many ways to track someone who is cyberbullying.
In 2011 a survey showed that 78% of children and young people feared that levels of cyberbullying would increase due to the evolving nature of technology.
Childline reported a 88% increase in counselling about bullying online across a 5 year period in the 2015-2016 ChildLine bullying report.
In 2015-16 ChildLine provided over 11,000 counselling sessions specifically relating to online issues including sexual abuse, bullying and safety.
In the same year online bullying represented a higher proportion of counselling sessions with boys than it did girls.
What I can do as an adult?
Talk to young people about cyberbullying, explaining that it is wrong and can have serious consequences. Make a rule that young people may not send mean or damaging messages, or suggestive pictures or messages, even if someone else started it or they will lose their mobile phone or computer privileges.
Encourage young people to tell an adult if cyberbullying is occurring. Tell them if they are the victims they will not be punished and reassure them that being bullied is not their fault.
Educate them to never share their personal information online or to meet someone they only know online.
Encourage them to take time off from technology, such as family meals or after a certain time of night.
Keep the computer in a shared space like a family room, and do not allow young people to have access to the internet in their own rooms.
Parents may want to wait until the secondary school age before allowing their child to have their own email and mobile phone accounts. Even then, the parents should still have access to the accounts.
What I can do as a young person?
Keep the cyber bullying messages as proof that the cyberbullying is occurring. Your parents or appropriate adult may want to talk to the parents of the cyberbully, the bully’s internet provider or mobile phone provider and/or the police about the messages, especially if they are threatening or in a sexual nature.
Try blocking the person sending the messages. It may be necessary to get a new phone number or email address and be more cautious about giving out the new number/address.
Never give your password to anyone except a parent and don’t write it down in a place where it can be found by others.
Don’t share anything via text or instant messaging that they would not want to be made public. Remember, the person you are messaging may not be who you think they are and that the things you post electronically may not be secure.
Heads2Minds offers support to help you, so please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org