Cyberbullying is a thing of high concern amongst many young people around the world. It is an awful experience that causes a lot of psychological and emotional damage to persons who are victims.
What is Cyberbullying?
When you’re harassed and intimidated online, it’s called cyberbullying. The agenda behind it is to intentionally make another person feel sad, angry and very scared.
The high availability of smartphones, tablets, laptops and the internet has provided bullies with an easy way to demonstrate this hurtful behaviour.
Research shows that about 37% of young people between the ages of 12 and 19 have been bullied online. 30% have experienced it more than once.
Girls are more likely than boys to be both victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying and only 1 in 10 teen victims actually tell a parent or trusted adult of their abuse.
How Is It Different From Other Forms Of Bullying?
Bullying is the intentional act of causing harm to another person face to face. Cyberbullying on the other hand is more dangerous because it can take place anywhere and anytime. The bully does not need to be face-to-face with their victim(s).
The victim might not even know who the bully is or why they are being targeted which makes the experience more vicious and cruel.
The attack could be in the form of sending threatening emails and text messages via social media sites, spreading false information or pictures intended to humiliate and lots more.
Signs Shown By A Victim Of Cyberbullying
Usually a person who is terrorized online finds it very hard to be themselves again. Their social life, social interactions and confidence become extremely damaged. They begin to exhibit the following signs:
- Withdrawal from friends and family.
- Eats and talks less than usual.
- Hides themselves in their rooms and does not want to be seen by others.
- Refusing to go outside.
- Weight loss and change in appearance.
- Ponders on suicidal thoughts.
- Increased anxiety and stress
- Deleting their profiles and online accounts.
How Do I Prevent It?
While there is no exact way to prevent oneself from ever being cyberbullied, there are things that can be done to reduce the chances of ever being targeted.
- Be extremely careful with the kind of information you share online expecially sensitive ones. Remember that people are not always who they claim to be online. And you can never tell whose monitoring you closely.
- It is important you use passwords on everything. Passwords are one of the most effective ways to protect your accounts and devices. Use very strong passwords and never share them with anyone.
- Ignore messages from people you do not know. The social media can be a great place to meet new people and make new friends but it is still super important to be extra cautious due trolls.
- Some smartphones allow users to share location with friends. This means that if you share your location with people, they will always know where you are. Be super careful with whom you share your location with or do not do so at all if it isn’t necessary.
- Always be engaged in offline activities. Find cool and fun stuff to keep you busy outside of the internet sphere that way you do not constantly get affected by happenings online. In summary, spend lesser time on your devices.
What Should I Do When I’m Being Cyberbullied?
Research has shown that those who are cyberbullied suffer a great deal of consequences, from struggling emotionally to physically, mentally, and academically. In order for this consequences to not become life threatening or prolonged please do the following:Report immediately:
- Report Immediately: If you discover that you receive a threatening or Cyberbullying message, it’s vital that you do not respond to it, forward or delete the message. Keep the message as evidence, block the bully and keep record of the time, date and nature of the attack.
- You can report to the authorities. For example, you can report to The Nigerian Police Force Cybercrime Reporting Portal or any other that is fit to help you.
- You can report to a parent or trusted adult. Make them aware of what’s happening.
- If the bullying takes place on a social media platform, report the event directly to the platform. Many social media sites have a way of reporting behaviour that is against their code of conduct. You can use the following links to report cyberbullying behaviour to Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter.
- Once you discover you are distressed because of the bullying, do not be afraid to speak to a mental health professional, or ask to be directed to services that can help. One of such mental health services is BetterHelp.
What Do I Do If A Friend Is Being Cyberbullied?
Being bullied can leave a person feeling like there’s no one out there who can understand or offer support. When a friend is being bullied, acknowledge their feelings and do not try to dismiss their experiences, even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal to you. Try to reassure them that they will be okay and they can be helped.
Remind them they’re brave and it’s ok to talk about it. Even if your friend makes you promise not to tell anyone, it’s really important that an adult knows what’s going on – especially if they’re in danger of getting hurt.
Finally, remember technology is not the bad man here. It’s the people who use it to harm others that are the real villians. As you use the internet, use it safely and responsibly with an attitude of no tolerance for bullying. This can work to prevent cyberbullying in the long run for you.