Cyberbullying involves the use of digital platforms such as texts, social media and email to pass negative, mean, false or harmful information about someone else. Such bullying can easily cause mental distress to the victim, which can lead to low self-esteem, depression, fear, anxiety or even worse, suicide.
Today, almost every person owns at least one digital device such a tablet, cellphone, laptop or computer. Even those who don’t own one, these devices are easily accessible. In addition, internet access has become affordable. That is why a single post from a bully can spread like wildfire, worsening the effects.
That being said, cyberbullying is a monster that should be stopped. Here are 10 sure ways to do this.
1. Use a VPN
Most cyberbullies use your personal information to fabricate things about you. That is why you should put in efforts to prevent your information from leaking out to other people. For starters, avoid using open Wi-Fi hotspots in public places. Anyone sharing the network can easily see what you send over the internet. If you must use one, ensure that you are connecting through a VPN to hide the data that you are sending. Be sure to invest in one from a trusted provider such as NordVPN for guaranteed security.
2. Be careful what you share online
Just as said earlier, the information used by bullies mostly come from you. Be careful about what you share online. Before you give out your address, telephone number or any other sensitive information, pose and think how that information can be used by malicious people. In addition, remember that the internet never forgets. It might not be used to harm you right away, but it could be used later.
3. Protect your devices and online accounts
Some bullies actually use their victim’s digital devices and online accounts to make posts such that the public thinks the victim posted them. To avoid such happening to you, ensure that you protect your devices and accounts with strong passwords. Make them hard to guess by mixing numbers, letters (both lower and upper cases) and special characters. Remember to log out of your online accounts when you are done using them.
4. Utilize privacy settings
The major social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have policies they have put in place to help users protect their accounts. Be sure to familiarize yourself with account privacy settings on such platforms. Use the settings to decide who can view your account. If you experience any sort of bullying, report these actions to the management. In addition, ensure that you block the people who pose a threat to you.
5. Speak out
Most people opt to deal with cyberbullying on their own, probably out of fear that no one can understand what they are going through. However, keeping quiet about it only elevates the negative feelings that come with it. Instead of trying to tackle the situation on your own, speak with someone that you trust. You never know, the person that you share with might have a better idea of how to deal with the situation.
6. Report to the authorities
Some cyberbullying can be passed off as a joke, but when it gets to harassment and threats, it needs to be reported to the authorities. To ensure that you have the necessary evidence, be sure to keep the messages, voice notes or screenshots of everything from when it started happening. Don’t forget to capture the date and time for every incident.
7. Don’t retaliate
Some cyberbullies are out there to get your attention. They will post hurtful things about you to see you react. However much you feel like defending yourself, it pays off to keep your cool and not say anything back. If you react, you will only start a series of back and forth messages that might escalate to something ugly.
8. Monitor kids’ online activity
According to statistics, a bigger percentage of teens have experienced some sort of cyberbullying. As a parent or guardian, it is important that you take measures to protect your teens from such experiences. For starters, regularly monitor their online activities to be in the know when such things happen. Secondly, teach them to use their digital devices responsibly.
9. Be on the lookout for behavior change
Most children are afraid of speaking out when they experience cyber bullying. However, if you pay close attention to them and know their healthy behavior, you can easily tell when something is off. Seek to find out what is eating them up especially if they become agitated after using their digital devices.
10. Build anti-bullying policies in schools
Most cyberbullying in teens and kids originates from their schools. School administrators can stop this behavior by putting up anti-bullying policies in their school. They should also ensure that the teachers, parents and students are aware of it.
In a nutshell, stopping cyberbullying can only take the effort of the victims, online platform administrators, parents, schools and any other concerned stakeholder. Leaving it to the victims alone can lead to catastrophic effects.