Issues with Social Media: Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying

Definition: act of harming or harassing via information technology networks (social media) in a repeated and deliberate manner.

We worry about your kids and their access to social media increasing their likelihood of being cyber-bullied. But do you ever think about what it looks like as an adult?  Is it worse, more painful, or more damaging? 

Also, what does it even look like?

According to PEW Research, 44% of men and 37% of women have experienced at least one of the six types of online harassment. The most targeted group is women ages 18-24.

PI_2014.10.22__online-harassment-06
Taken from PewInternet.org, Part 1: Experiencing Online Harassment by Maeve Duggan

According to NoBullying.com, bullies target their victims and elevate their effect by using social media networks to increase audience size. Some bullies use pseudonyms to disguise their identity, use vulgar language, and even hack accounts. This is scary in an age where information on the internet is stored in various servers around the globe. Any information on the internet can and may be used against you.

Tips for Dealing with Cyberbullying

So, what can you do about cyberbullying? Here are my gathered tips to approaching cyberbullying as an adult.

  1. Be aware of the potential consequences of any information posted online. Know how to effectively navigate an online, unintentionally public presence. Every post has an implication and may be a trigger for bullying, especially if it indicates you are vulnerable.
  2. Respond effectively if it does happen. Respond by respectfully asking the person to stop. In some cases, no response is the best response.
  3. Do not retaliate or “give them a taste of their own medicine.” This is ultimately ineffective. Practice compassion, especially for your self.
  4. Keep records of any cyberbullying. Save screenshots, emails, and other messages that fit into the cyberbullying category and contact the service provider to help you block this bully from contacting you.
  5. Report bullying to service providers. As Cyberbullying.org states, many online networks have a harassment policy every user has to agree with in order to use their services. By reporting, they will be able to deactivate the account that is harassing you.

In the end, it is up to you to deal with cyberbullying responsibly. As my mother would say, “The only thing you can control is your own actions and responses.”

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