The Internet is one of the biggest – if not the biggest – technological breakthrough ever made. Not only does it allow us to access information from anywhere with a click of a button, but it also lets us get in touch with people all over the world in a mere instant. Unfortunately, just like with all good things, the Internet can be used for ill, and one of the ways that it can happen is throughcyberbullying.
What Is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is just like what it implies – bullying someone over the Internet. There have been many instances of it reported on the news, with a few unfortunate ones resulting in serious and tragic consequences.
As such, many websites that foster user communication – such as forums, messageboards and social network websites – take it very seriously.These channels even go as far as ensuring that all their users not only have the ability to report cyberbullying but also to protect themselves against it. Some of them even have tools that can facilitate tracking an online bully’s location so that they can be held accountable for their actions.
Some examples of bullying include (but are not limited to):
- Sending threatening or insulting messages to other users through private messaging, emailing, or chat, in public or in private
- Posting embarrassing pictures or videos of a user in a public website, such as Facebook, Twitter or Youtube
- Repeatedly sending (spamming) insults or personal attacks on someone’s social networking page
- Yelling, insulting or demeaning someone through voice chat, whether in a game or in a voice call
- Setting up fake and insulting profiles of other users in a social networking website
How Do We Deal with Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is just as bad (if not worse) than real-world bullying. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways a cyberbullying victim can respond to the act and help prevent it from happening again to themselves as well as other users.
- Report them. As stated above many websites take cyberbullying seriously and have taken great pains to ensure that their users are empowered with ways to deal with this matter. Social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter allow users to report or flag other users for cyberbullying or harassment. The offending user’s account page usually has this feature as a button or a link. When in doubt, consult the website’s help page or FAQ.
- Block them. Once you report your cyberbully, it’s also a good idea to block them. ‘Blocking’ means that the website will screen any and all messages from the cyberbully and prevent them from reaching you or appearing on your page. Like reporting, this feature should be accessible via your bully’s user page, or you can look up the feature through the website’s user documentation.
- Confront them. Just like the real world, you will meet all sorts of people on the Internet, and a few of them either won’t agree with you. Take this opportunity to learn something about yourself and how you react to other people who are not being nice to you or even insulting towards you. Remember that by reacting to them in a negative fashion, such as getting angry or retaliating, will only make you a bigger target for cyberbullying.
Instead, respond to them in a mature manner, saying that you don’t like how they’re treating you. There’s a good chance that they may actually come to their senses and stop what they’re doing, and even rephrase what they’re saying to be much nicer and less intimidating. But if they continue their abusive behavior, then feel free to report and block them. You tried your best.
- Talk to your friends and family about it. After dealing with cyber bullies, don’t hesitate to talk to your loved ones and friends about it. Let them know how you feel. Allow yourself to vent, let your anger or sadness at being cyberbullied out by trusting other people with your experiences. This not only helps you deal with the incident in a healthy manner but also makes you better equipped to deal with the next incident should it happen.
Most of the time, the above steps are enough to take care of any cyberbully. However, in rare cases some cyberbulliesare willing to take their malicious activities to the next level – i.e. bringing it into the real world, with threats of stalking and physical harm.
Your cyberbully may even declare themselves as someone actively looking for you and planning to hurt you. This is the time when you should ask for help from the police as well as from the administrating staff of the website where yourcyberbully made their threats.