Social media is a very effective communication method between families and friends. This useful platform can also be a great way to share great memories with all your friends at once using pictures. However, this method of communication is being tainted with the reputation of being a catalyst to cyberbullying, which has various adverse side effects.
Teens may face a difficult time trying to process the words or pictures used to bully them and as a result, they may resort to self-inflicted pain or even suicide. Others may face prolonged mental and social conditions because of this and this is the reason why cyberbullying needs to be stopped and prevented.
How can you stop cyberbullying in social media when facing it or when someone you know is being bullied? Here are 10 tips to help you know what to do.
Stop and Prevent Cyberbullying in Social Media
1. Speak to someone you trust
When you have been bullied or if you are being bullied, you need to come out and speak to someone you trust. Be open and honest about how you feel about the whole ordeal and do not belittle the effect it has on you.
Avoid the mentality that your teachers or parents won’t do anything about it because they do care about you. If speaking to your teachers or parent is not an option you can get in touch with your school guidance counselor who will help you get through it. Also, don’t have the perception that the situation will escalate when you tell someone, instead of that, speak up!
The fear of getting embarrassed might get you, but for you to face that situation with triumph, you need to tell someone.
Alternatively, if you are a parent, you may find it beneficial to reach out to your children when you think they are being bullied. Brainstorm ways with your child to address this issue and follow them through, however, don’t make your children regret opening up to you.
2. Keep evidence
Some cyberbullying incidents may cross the line from aggravation to criminal offenses such as harassment and threats. For the bullies to pay for what they did, you must keep a record of everything.
This includes screenshots of posts, messages, or voice notes. These should be kept for whenever the local law enforcement authorities need them. As some cases even involve suicide, you as a parent should keep a record of these things, especially if your child committed suicide because of this.
Some cyberbullies do not get what they deserve just because the evidence is inadmissible. To avoid this, keep a record of the date and time when this started happening.
This happened to a girl named Izzy Dix who was constantly being harassed online because of the clothes she wore and her ambition to study at Oxford.
She committed suicide, but because there was no evidence, law enforcement found no grounds to charge anyone. However, her mom, Gabbi, has now found records that show the pattern of cyberbullying and as a result, she wants the case to be reopened.
3. Don’t retaliate
Most of the time, any type of bully bullies others to get attention from the one he is bullying or from others. Essentially, bullies are looking for ways to make the situation escalate and retaliating will give them just that.
Choose to walk away and ignore those posts, messages, or pictures they have used to get to you. However, don’t walk away in the context of not telling anyone or not getting help, but rather don’t engage with the bullies.
Even if the things they said are hurtful or untrue, don’t answer them or try to justify yourself because the situation might get out of hand without you even recognizing.
Make a plan of action whenever you get bullied to go tell someone right after you see that post or act of cyberbullying. Afterward, block that bully from sending your further messages or emails altogether. If the bully used a post to get to you, you can report it and it will get taken down. Once you have blocked that bully, you won’t see any further posts from him.
4. Understand the scope of cyberbullying
Knowing where cyberbullying comes from is very important because you can know where to focus your efforts. Bullying is no longer practiced in school playgrounds, but it is now done digitally on all social media platforms.
This includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and even other digital means of communication like text messages and emails.
It can happen from any of these platforms at any time, so you need to be ready to take action to help your children. Alternatively, you as a victim need to be prepared to handle this situation, should it happen.
With almost all teenagers having access to the internet and possess mobile devices, the scope of cyberbullying is very big. Parents need to monitor the phones of their children and monitor their online behavior to eliminate any possibility of an incident of this sort.
As technology is developing, it is getting more and easier to accomplish this, so you need to stay up to date with the latest technologies. Teach your kids and even your grown-up children to not to over-rely on digital platforms.
Tell them the importance of spending time in the outside world with friends and relatives. Take them out for walks, sports, and other extra-curricular like painting, dance classes, etc.
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5. Be educated about cyberbullying
Knowing what cyberbullying is and knowing more about this growing problem as parents will help avoid escalated incidents. Furthermore, parents should be aware of what is going on in their children’s lives, including what they are up to on their phones.
There are some misconceptions about this that parents should also properly understand. For example, some think that boys are the majority of cyberbullies towards girls. However, the truth is that both girls and boys are both bullies at the same rate.
The approach of each gender is unique, though because boys are most likely to use threats and girls focus more on emotional abuse.
So, learning these facts and learning more statistics will help parents be better equipped to help their children who are being bullied. This will also help parents of bullies recognize their children’s behavior early and be able to act on it.
Just as no one would like their child to be a cyberbully, all parents should put in the work learning more about this problem.
6. Recognize the signs
There are early warning signs that may tell parents more about their children’s online life. As a parent, you need to be vigilant and be on the lookout for any of these signs that may indicate cyberbullying behavior.
If your child is being cyberbullied, he might show some physical symptoms which you should take seriously because your teen will be likely reluctant to speak to you. Some of these signs are shutting out the whole world and not disclosing any details about their day or personal life.
Some teens might lose interest in activities they liked, skip classes, or have changes in their sleeping and eating habits. Additionally, your child might lose interest in using his computer.
All these warning signs might be telling you that your child is experiencing cyberbullying, so you need to reach out to him. On the flip side, if your child is a cyberbully, he will be very aggressive when you take away his phone or computer.
You should help your child accordingly with each unique circumstance. Sometimes you may even need to take your child to see a psychologist.
7. Keep your data safe
Another important step to ensuring your safety from cyberbullying is keeping your data and cellphone safe. This includes having a secure password for your mobile devices to avoid having anyone gaining access to your phone and posting things you didn’t.
Some bullies may even stoop so low and make you seem like the bully. To avoid all of these outcomes, you need to protect your devices and data.
A similar thing happened to Izzy Dix, mentioned above because bullied used a picture they stole from her to set up a fake Facebook profile. They used the account to post harmful messages, so it is very important for you to be careful with your personal information and data.
So, teens should be careful when posting online and they should ensure that their privacy of what they post is restricted to how they want it to be.
For example, when posting images on Facebook, make sure that your privacy settings are set to private. Also, avoid viewing messages from people you don’t know and don’t respond altogether.
8. Don’t convert to bullying
Some victims of cyberbullying may suffer from a lot of emotional and psychological damage that they turn to bullies themselves. This might be a coping mechanism that is very dangerous to yourself and to those around you.
Others may justify themselves and say that they are bullying the bullies that bullied them, while this may sound fair it is actually far from fair. This is because when you bully another bully, the number of bullies just increases.
You might also get used to it and then start doing to other people who will hurt them and even lead to deep emotional and mental wounds. So, before you convert to bullying, think about the bigger picture and how it can change you.
Instead of bullying, turn to others for help and let the authorities or teachers deal with those who bullied you. Self-vengeance is not the answer in this situation because it might end up leaving you alone in trouble.
9. Support others
Rather than bullying others, show support to other victims of bullying and let them know that they are not alone. Even if you have not experienced being cyberbullied you can still help others out and listen to them when they share their stories.
Don’t judge or make the situation worse by taking the side of the bullies but show compassionate support to victims of bullying. Ask them where you can help in this situation and help them muster the courage to come forward and report this incident to teachers and authorities.
Be there for them whenever they need a shoulder to cry on. As a parent, you should also help your children be ready to support cyberbullying victims.
As a parent, you should also be ready to show support to your children or their friends if they are facing this situation. Also, show support to any steps they are taking to fight this and don’t force the process of recovery from this. Remember that not everyone heals the same way.
10. Hold the bullies accountable
Don’t let the bullies get away with this because if they do, they will do it on another person. Whenever you feel that it will be embarrassing to speak out, remember that it would be selfish to hold this in because more people will get hurt.
Don’t take the fall for this and think it was your fault, rather tell the authorities what happened after speaking to someone you trust. Remember that you are not liable for anyone’s actions that they knowingly took.
Don’t be scared that they will do more harm to you but stand up for what is good and don’t break under their pressure. In this way, you will be holding the cyberbullies that attacked you accountable and will prevent them from bullying again.
The parents of those bullies should also be notified of their children’s actions. Cyberbullies need to know that their cyberbullying actions will come with consequences.
The matter of stopping and preventing cyberbullying in social media should be proactive and not reactive.
Children shouldn’t be facing so much social abuse that they resort to killing themselves, so this problem needs to be nipped at the buds.
The first step that should be taken is that parents should be aware of the early warning signs that their children might be bullies. Once they have picked up those signs, they need to take action about this and handle this matter accordingly. In the case of children that are being cyberbullied, their parents should make efforts to reach out and take steps to stop this from happening.