Stand Up to Cyberbullying

As technology advances, so do the problems that come with it.  Cyberbullying is defined as the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostel behavior by an individual or group who wants to harm others. It is a serious social problem that seems to be growing among teens. Cyberbullying has led to eating disorders, depression, suicidal thoughts and suicides. Cyberbullying needs to be addressed by schools, law enforcement, parents, and online websites in order to stop completely. Here are some actions you can take to avoid cyberbullying and stay cyber-safe.

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Ways to Stay Safe:

1. Never give out personal information: Waiting for hours on your favorite band’s page to buy tickets, to their upcoming show, is extremely important, along with your online shopping addiction. But be on the lookout, keep personal info like bank account numbers, pin numbers,and  passwords to online social networks to yourself! This will help prevent others from posting inappropriate information on your accounts and stealing personal information.

2. Don’t believe everything you see or read:
Just like your soccer team’s locker room gossip, don’t  believe everything people say or post online, because they could easily be rumors. Also, don’t believe all the  personal information people share, like their age. That Justin Bieber look-alike can be lying and tell you he’s 15 when he can actually be a lot older.

3.Use Netiquette:
Manners online are just as important as those in the real world. Be cautious of what comments you make, or words you use to address others. When online treat others the way you would like to be treated. In other words, treat them just like you would off-line, with respect.

4. Don’t send a message to someone when you are angry:
Keep an online diary or notepad and write down all your frustrations, but don’t send anything. Anger can cause you to express yourself in ways you normally wouldn’t, which can be hurtful. Wait until you are calm and have analyzed the situation before sending a virtual message.

5. If it doesn’t look or feel right, it probably isn’t:
Trust your instincts and if your gut tells you not to do something then don’t do it. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

6. You don’t always have to be “on.”
Escape back to the real world. Turn off, disconnect, or unplug your device once in a while!  Try actual reality instead of virtual  reality: Don’t spend too much time online; try riding a bike, reading a book, or exercising instead. Challenge yourself to an afternoon without electronics!

You followed the safety protocol but are being threatened by a cyberbully, what should you do? Here are some tips on how to handle a cyberbully.

 How to Handle A Cyberbully:

1. Don’t reply to messages from cyberbullies:
To avoid any problems simply ignore the cyberbully by  not replying to his/her messages. This might be difficult, but it’s best not to add fuel to the fire.

2. Do not keep this to yourself!
You are NOT alone and you did NOT do anything to deserve this!  Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk to a parent or adult. The best way to deal with this sort of situation, is to ask someone you trust for help and advice.

3. Inform your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or cell phone/ pager service provider:
Most websites or cell phones have ways to block a bully. Use these services and don’t be afraid to report anyone who is harassing you.

4. Inform your local police:
If the bullying continues and escalates, call the police.  This might be scary but remember, the police are there to help no matter what your problem is.

5. Do not erase or delete messages from cyberbulies:
If things get really bad, don’t delete anything so that you have proof of the cyberbullying. Do not reply, but save them so you have evidence for when you do report them.

6. Protect yourself!!:
Never arrange to meet online with someone without knowing who they are. If you decide to meet up with a new online acquaintance make you sure it is in a public place and that you have your parents approval. Always practice internet safety, chicas.

Cyberbullies tend to be male and the cyber-victims female. More research needs to be done in order to determine how much influence gender really has on cyberbullying.  Statistics show that 1 in every 7 students is either a bully or a victim, which should be a high enough number for schools to realize more should be done about the problem. Some online websites that aid victims of cyberbullying mainly approach parents or caregivers instead of the adolescents who make up the highest number of cybervictims.  Schools are slow to do something about the problem because they’re not quite sure how or when to approach an incident.

Cyberbullying should be taken more seriously because of the physical or physiological consequences it can have on someone. More can be done if Cyberbullying is seen as a problem and not as an issue among adolescents.

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