National Stop Bullying Day: Cyberbullying, online safety, and you
Every October, we recognize the importance of anti-bullying efforts, and share some of our own---and some curated---tips on how to be more safe online, how to prevent certain cyberbullying efforts, and where to seek help should it come to that. If you missed our previous posts, here is a little refresher:
There are many forms of cyberbullying, and so it's important that your identity online remains safe (so it can't be impersonated), and that you always know exactly who it is you're talking to.
1. When making any online account, make sure that you use a real email that can be verified (and thus, easier to keep track of), and that you set up a password that meets the following criteria:
- Does not contain any personal information (your name, birthdate, etc)
- Make it long — minimum 8 characters
- Use a combination of numbers, symbols, and uppercase and lowercase letters
- Make it random, avoiding any common phrases
- Don’t reuse a password
2. When chatting with someone online, it's important to remember this easy dos and don'ts list:
Last year, CallerSmart, an online phone book built around a robust community that works hard to report unwanted numbers such as debt collectors, spammers, scams, and other general harassers recently published an article outlining the different forms of cyberbullying, and how to prevent it.We'll share a few of the tips they mentioned, and the full version can be found here.
What teens can do…
…if you are a target of cyberbullying:
- Don’t retaliate with more cyberbullying, it’s best to just ignore a cyberbully if you can. You can block them on social media and block texts from them if you don’t want to see it. Bullies are looking for a reaction when they attack a person; if you turn the other cheek they go away.
- Report offensive social media posts to the company. If you don’t like what is being posted about you report it.
…if you see cyberbullying:
- Don’t become a part of cyberbullying by sharing posts, texts, images, or videos which hurt others. Take a stand against cyberbullies.
- Report the offensive behavior. Most social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram, have made it easy to report posts that are inappropriate
What parents can do…
…if your child is being cyberbullied:
- Make sure your child feels loved and supported. Have open and frank discussions with your child about what is happening. Encourage ignoring the cyberbully and the temptation to retaliate.
- If the problem continues help your child collect evidence and discuss reporting the cyberbully to school authorities. Go over setting up stronger privacy settings in social media accounts and make sure they know how to report posts that they find hurtful and cruel.
It's also important to remember that a phone number holds a lot of power. Especially when it’s free, and easy to use to call a friend, family member, or even a hotline:
National Bullying Prevention Center