4 Steps for Preventing Cyberbullying
In an age of cyberattacks, viruses, and phishing, one other dangerous online trend is harming people left and right. That is cyberbullying.
Until this problem is taken seriously, it will continue to create serious issues for millions of Americans.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is defined as the use of technology to harass or psychologically harm another person. It can originate on the Internet or via any sort of electronic communication, including email, message boards, social networking sites, mobile applications, text messages, chat rooms, and even online games.
Cyberbullying usually falls into one of two categories:
Intentional actions: This may include verbal bullying, threats, or the sharing of unflattering or sexually suggestive images/videos to and even of the victim.
Harmful rumors: This is where people spread rumors (either intentionally or unintentionally) about the victim. The rumors end up hurting the person by causing psychological harm. They may even lead to the victim being ostracized by friends, employers, and the general public.
Cyberbullying is a serious issue for kids and teenagers. However, it doesn’t stop there. Millions of children and adults report being victims of cyberbullies on a regular basis. Here are a few striking statistics:
- 73 percent of students say they’ve been bullied in their lifetime, while 44 percent of students surveyed in 2021 say it’s happened within the last 30 days.
- Overall, more than 36 percent of people say they’ve been cyberbullied in their lifetime, while 17 percent say it’s happened within the past month.
- 7 in 10 teenagers report someone has spread a rumor about them online.
- 87 percent of people have witnessed cyberbullying.
In other words, cyberbullying isn’t just a tiny problem that happens in the darkest corners of the Web. It’s a mainstream epidemic that’s had an impact on millions of children and adults. And until we proactively address the underlying causes, it’ll continue to be a serious issue.
Left unaddressed, cyberbullying has serious consequences – for the bullies as well as their victims. Though it’s no excuse, many people don’t realize the ramifications of their actions.
They might think they’re just joking around, when they’re actually inflicting harm. For example, incidents like revenge porn and/or sharing explicit sexual content that was shared with the understanding of confidentiality can lead to serious lawsuits and even jail time.
How to Stifle Cyberbullying
In order to fight back against cyberbullying, we have to begin by getting serious. By “we,” that means everyone.
This includes lawmakers, attorneys, local government, federal government, teachers, parents, kids, adults, and everyone in between. But you’re not here to read a generic motivational piece. You want specifics.
Here are four practical steps we can take:
Raise Greater Awareness
Cyberbullying public awareness campaigns have surfaced every few years, but not nearly enough is being done to bring this serious issue to light. It’s imperative that we raise more awareness by discussing it publicly, sharing articles and statistics, enlisting the help of influencers, and getting teachers and educators to acknowledge its presence more frequently.
Enlist the Help of Parents
Parents are a key piece of the puzzle. Many children don’t understand how damaging their online bullying behaviors can be. Parents must make it a point to call out bullying for what it is and explain the effects.
On the flip side, adults can do a lot to protect their children from becoming victims. This includes protecting accounts and devices, limiting usage, applying privacy tools, and encouraging children to keep their personal information private.
Document and Report
When you run across bullying (whether personally or as a witness), it’s a good idea to document it by taking screenshots and saving the content. In most cases, bullying is repeated behaviour. If you can document it over time, there’s a better chance that something can be done about it.
Limit Online Activity
One of the best things you can do is limit online activity. Although bullying certainly happens in real life as well, it’s much less common than on the Internet. By stepping away from screens and encouraging interactions with people in the flesh, it becomes easier to develop and maintain healthy relationships.
Cultivating a Safer Online World
Creating a safer online world requires a full-our effort from everyone. The sooner we take the issue of cyberbullying seriously, the more victims we can save from being hurt.
It starts with raising awareness of the issue. Thereafter, discipline, accountability, and greater oversight are needed. Here’s to the hope that more people rally behind this cause moving forward!