Cyberbullying is bullying using technology. One of the problems with modern technology is that many teens are more computer literate than their parents and so may be drawn into dangerous situations via the Internet without the knowledge of parents. In addition, working through a computer or cell phone screen is far more impersonal than dealing with someone face to face so things may be said on the screen that would not be said face to face. In addition, typing a text tends to change our perception of privacy and people may reveal things on line that they would not disclose in person. One of the differences between cyber bullying and other forms of bullying is that cyberbullies can remain anonymous or hide their identity. This can add to the distress of the victim.
The ease with which we can access information on the net and the sense of safety we have doing so in the comfort of our own home can lure us into a false sense of security. We may forget that once something is online, we lose control. For example, a young woman may send revealing photos to a boyfriend, assuming they are safe, but she may not anticipate that these could be passed on to all sorts of people later on, especially if the relationship turns sour. Young people tend to forget that stalkers can create a false profile in order to woo and lure a person into a dangerous situation. Parents should monitor the time children spend on the internet. Access should be limited and monitored until children have proved they are trustworthy enough to go online with minimal supervision. (Hickson 2011).
As a parent, take an interest in what your children are doing online. Ask them, talk to them and observe them. Don’t let children have a computer that is connected to the internet in their bedroom. Set up a computer in a communal space. Make sure teach person has their own password- protected user profile. Make sure you know everyone’s password-for their protection, not so you can invade their privacy. Sit with your child occasionally and review their Internet history. If there are any inappropriate sites, discuss it and deal with it straight away.
Go through lists of friends on social networks and make sure they are real people that the child actually knows, not Internet friends whom the child has not met. These may be dangerous adults with fake profiles working to lure the child into a dangerous situation. When you use the internet, make sure you do not provide personal information on the online. The less avenues you provide, the fewer avenues a bully has to get at you.
If you are being bullied on the internet, remember cyber bullies leave a trail in the form of emails, pictures, phone numbers etc. Collect evidence. Save and/or print emails. Make notes in a diary. Record incidents using print screen or a photo. Once you have these copies, block people who try to hurt you online. Don’t retaliate. If you give the bully attention, the situation can easily escalate.
Remember that having a secure password prevents other people from tampering with your internet and doing things in your name. Hickson suggests that passwords should have eight characters, be a mixture of upper and lower case letters and contain at least one number. He suggests you avoid names, phone numbers street addresses or car registrations, which can be guessed quite easily. If you suspect you are being bullied via the net, google yourself. Use your name and variations of your name. Click on various pages and see if they reference you. If there is offensive information about you, make copies with dates print what you see and make screen shots (print screen) Note the URLs
If you are being bullied on the social network sites, create a new account for yourself with a new identity and profile name. Transfer info you want to keep from your old account. Tell only the people you want to know about your new account. Delete all photos, friends etc from your old account with explaining then delete the old account. If you are being bullied on the phone, choose when and where to answer. If the bully thinks you are alone, the bullying is likely to be worse. Answer in a noisy place if you can. You can pretend you can’t hear and ring off. Block the bully’s number.
Protect yourself by thinking before you send any response via technology. Remember what you say is recorded and can be used as evidence against you. Think about what you want to say. It can be helpful to ask a family member to review your message. Technology is wonderful but like anything in this world it can be misused. Cyberbullying is easy. Just one click and harmful messages and images can be spread to a lot of people. Once a message or picture is sent, you lose all control over it. Be cautious and think long term when you send anything in writing or via the net. With new forms of communication, comes new forms of bullying. However, with appropriate precautions, you can enjoy technology and keep yourself safe.
Credit to the author in the following reference;
REFERENCE: Hickson A. (2011) How To Stop Bullying. Speechmark.
COMPILED BY DR. B L WADE
OLIVE BRANCH TRAUMA CENTRE
Olive Branch 37 Wordsworth Avenue Farrarmere Benoni
Tel: 072 122 4766 / 011 849-7473.
Dr Barbara Wade is an accredited member of Saaswipp (the South African Association of Social Workers in Private Practice) and practices in the field of individual and family therapy, as well as specializing in all forms of trauma