Cyberbullying is bullying with the use of digital technologies. It can take place on social media, messaging platforms, gaming platforms and mobile phones. It is a repeated behaviour, aimed at scaring, angering or shaming those who are targeted. Examples include:
- spreading lies about or posting embarrassing photos of someone on social media
- sending hurtful messages or threats via messaging platforms
- impersonating someone and sending mean messages to others on their behalf
Face-to-face bullying and cyberbullying can often happen alongside each other. But cyberbullying leaves a digital footprint – a record that can prove useful and provide evidence to help STOP THE ABUSE!
- Am I being bullied online? How do you tell the difference between a joke and bullying?
All friends joke around with each other, but sometimes it’s hard to tell if someone is just having fun or trying to hurt you, especially online. Sometimes they will laugh it off with a “just kidding,” or “don’t take it so seriously.” But if you feel hurt or think others are laughing at you instead of with you, then the joke has gone too far. If it continues even after you have asked the person to stop and you are still feeling upset about it, then this could be bullying.
When the bullying takes place online, it can result in unwanted attention from a wide range of people including strangers. If you feel bad and it doesn’t stop, then it’s worth getting help. Stopping cyberbullying is not just about calling out bullies, it’s also about recognising that everyone deserves respect – online and in real life!
- What are the effects of cyberbullying?
When bullying happens online it can feel as if you are being attacked everywhere, even inside your own home. It can seem like there is no escape. The effects can last a long time and affect a person in many ways:
- Mentally – feeling upset, embarrassed, stupid, and even angry
- Emotionally – feeling ashamed or losing interest in the things you love
- Physically – tired (loss of sleep), experiencing symptoms like stomach aches and headaches
The feeling of being laughed at or harassed by others, can prevent people from speaking up or trying to deal with the problem. In extreme cases, cyberbullying can even lead to people taking their own lives. Cyberbullying can affect us in many ways but these can be overcome and people can regain their confidence and health.
- Who should I talk to if someone is bullying me online? Why is reporting important?
If you think you are being bullied, the first step is to seek help from someone you trust such as your parents, a close family member or another trusted adult to ensure you are safe. In your school you can reach out to a counsellor, the sports coach or your favourite teacher.
If the bullying is happening on a social platform, consider blocking the bully and formally reporting their behaviour on the platform itself. It can be helpful to collect evidence – text messages and screen shots of social media posts – to show what’s been going on.
- I am experiencing cyberbullying, but I am afraid to talk to my parents about it. How can I approach them?
Talking to parents isn’t easy for everyone. Choose a time to talk when you know you have their full attention. Explain how serious the problem is for you. Remember, they might not be as familiar with technology as you are, so you might need to help them to understand what’s happening.
Two heads are always better than one! If you are still unsure about what to do, consider reaching out to other trusted people. There are often more people who care about you and are willing to help.
- How can I help my friends report a case of cyberbullying especially if they don’t want to do it?
Anyone can become a victim of cyberbullying. If you see this happening to someone you know, try to offer support. It is important to listen to your friend. Why don’t they want to report being cyberbullied? How are they feeling? It is crucial that they talk to someone who might be able to help.
Remember, your friend may be feeling fragile. Be kind to them. Offer to go with them if they decide to report. Most importantly, remind them that you are there for them and you want to help. If your friend still does not want to report the incident, then support them in finding a trusted adult who can help them deal with the situation.
- How do we stop cyberbullying without giving up access to the Internet?
Being online has so many benefits. However, like many things in life, it comes with risks that you need to be aware of. If you experience cyberbullying, you may want to delete certain apps or stay offline for a while to give yourself time to recover.
We all want cyberbullying to stop, which is one of the reasons reporting cyberbullying is so important. We also need to be thoughtful about what we share or say that may hurt others. We need to be kind to one another online and in real life. It’s up to all of us to be responsible!
- How do I prevent my personal information from being used to manipulate or humiliate me on social media?
Think twice before posting or sharing anything online – it may stay online forever and could be used to harm you later. Learn about the privacy settings of your favourite social media apps.
Here are some actions you can take on many of them:
- You can decide who can see your profile, send you direct messages or comment on your posts by adjusting your account privacy settings.
- You can report hurtful comments, messages and photos and request they be removed.
- Besides “unfriending”, you can completely block people to stop them from seeing your profile or contacting you.
- You can delete posts on your profile or hide them from specific people.
- Is there a punishment for cyberbullying?
Most schools take bullying seriously and will take action against it. If you are being cyberbullied by other students, report it to your school. However, it is important to remember that punishment is not always the most effective way to change the behaviour of bullies. It is often better to focus on repairing the harm and mending the relationship. It is up to all of us to hold them accountable when they are not living up to these responsibilities.
The first line of defense against cyberbullying could be you!
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