Unit 3: Cyberbullying: How to Prevent It, and How to Protect Yourself from It
Bullying can be prevented in the physical world through steps such as informing teachers, parents, or responsible individuals who can address the issue at school. Similar preventive measures apply in the online world, but it’s important to approach them from a different perspective because, in the physical world, it can be challenging to prevent bullying, especially when the aggressor resorts to physical attacks for no apparent reason. However, cyberbullying can be effectively prevented on the internet, where personal protection is paramount because the internet can be a platform for causing even greater harm than in the physical world.
Cyberbullying frequently occurs between individuals online but has the most significant impact on the victim. Therefore, every internet user should take steps to protect themselves from such attacks. Here are several measures to protect against or prevent online cyberbullying:
- Never share your personal information publicly. This is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself online, as an aggressor cannot misuse your personal information to harm you.
- Avoid sharing overly personal photos, as an aggressor could potentially use them against the victim.
- Exercise restraint and civility in expressing your opinions online. Aggressive or assertive behavior online, such as aggressive commenting on a celebrity’s post, can make you a target for group bullying.
- Safeguard your online accounts with secure passwords, and do not share them with anyone.
- Be cautious of fake news, as these messages may contain links to dangerous sites or files through which an aggressor or attacker can obtain your sensitive information and use it to threaten you.
- Refrain from adding individuals you do not know to your network contacts, as someone known to you could potentially become an aggressor.
If you have already become a victim of cyberbullying, it is still possible to take action. First, it is essential to identify the type of cyberbullying and then determine the appropriate steps based on the situation. If cyberbullying is occurring at school, the student can discuss it with a teacher, who can address it based on the severity of the situation. In more severe cases, involving law enforcement may be necessary. If the victim is an adult and their life is at risk due to the aggressor, it is imperative to notify the police immediately.
For victims dealing with provocation from the aggressor:
- If possible, ignore the aggressor.
- Block the aggressor on social networks.
- Preserve evidence of cyberbullying.
I posted a video of myself singing a song on YouTube. About five days later, I came across a video created by an anonymous individual who had taken my video, slowed it down, and zoomed in on my face. This person left a comment on the video saying, ‘She’s so ugly… I hate her….’ It frightened me because I had no idea who would do something like that. It seemed like it had taken a lot of time and effort to create such a hateful video, so the person must really dislike me.
(15-year-old girl from California)
What should this girl do? It was a good decision to share what happened, especially with close friends, family, and/or health professionals. Seeking help and support is crucial. The girl who posted the singing video didn’t do anything wrong, and people she can trust will undoubtedly reassure her of that.
The next step is to report this behaviour to the platform administrators where the edited video was posted so they can be aware of the situation and take appropriate corrective and preventive actions.
I’m addicted to my Xbox, and I always enjoy playing on that console. I recently got a new game called Halo, which offers Xbox Live Gaming. It was a lot of fun initially. However, one day I turned on the console, started Halo, and realized that no one wanted to play with me. This took a lot of the enjoyment out of the game because the main appeal was playing it online with other people. Even my friends didn’t want to play that game with me, which was quite frustrating, and I felt isolated. I asked them to stop, but they just laughed it off. At first, I didn’t know what to do about it, but eventually, I decided to confide in my parents. Fortunately, my parents spoke to my friends’ parents, and over time, my friends came to realize that their behaviour was wrong and immature. Following this incident, my friends tried to include me in everything, apologized sincerely, and explained that they hadn’t realized how much their actions had affected me.
(No attribution provided for this story: the boy’s age and location are unknown)
As with the earlier story, it was a positive step that the boy shared his experience with people he trusted. Thankfully, that was enough to rectify the situation. Additionally, sharing the story with the wider world can be helpful for individuals in similar situations and can contribute to understanding that certain behaviours, even if unintentional, can be hurtful to others.