Cyberbullying on social media is rife and most young people will experience it or see it. In a survey, 90% of young people said they have seen others be bullied online.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is defined as any form of bullying which takes place online or through smartphones and tablets. Examples may include using text messaging or other electronic means to spread rumours, ridicule someone, intimidate or threaten someone, or intentionally exclude someone. Any platform online can be used in cyberbullying. Social networking apps, messaging apps, gaming websites and engagement facilitators such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat. Xbox Live, Nintendo Switch and Playstation also have the facility to allow verbal and written chat.
Interestingly, cyberbullying is not a crime in itself. There is no specific cyberbullying law in the UK that recognises it… yet. However, by taking part in cyberbullying, a person may be committing a criminal offence under a variety of acts such as, but not limited to:
Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Malicious Communications Act 1988, Communications Act 2003, Obscene Publications Act 1959, Public Order Act 1986 and the Computer Misuse Act 1990
Who is most at risk of being cyberbullied?
In a word, EVERYONE. However, statistically speaking older children, such as tweens and teenagers are more at risk for being targets of cyberbullying. It is at this age when many of our youth, between the ages of 11 and 15 begin to enter the online world alone. Some, very unprepared for what can happen. Sadly, some older children are literally left to their own devices, with little to no supervision from adults.
It’s so important in this technological world that we live in, that we educate the youth. But also adults and teachers on what is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour online.
Directly, the youth need to understand how to protect themselves online, when cyberbullying occurs;
- Refuse to participate in cyberbullying behavours
- Block and do not engage with the cyberbully
- Keep all of your device settings private and do not use social media.
- Talk to an adult or teacher they can trust
- Keep a copy / save any harassing images, messages and video for proof.
- Take a stand if they notice cyberbullying.
- Be a friend to a victim of cyberbullying
How to prevent cyberbullying
Well, it’s a tricky one this one. Sadly there will always be someone who wants to upset someone else. But, there are things that can be done to help prevent cyberbullying. With plenty of awareness and meaningful discussions with our tweens and teenagers, we can empower them to take a stand against cyberbullying themselves.
I have created an infographic with information to help protect our children from cyberbullying. Feel free to download the printable pdf version.
Final Thoughts on cyberbullying
When I was at school, there wasn’t any form of social media we see today. I was bullied at school and it was the typical form of bullying, verbal and physical. These days with the use of the internet cyberbullying on social media, the effects this can have on peoples mental wellbeing is phenomenal.
During my research for this article and infographic, I was astonished at how high the statistics are for cyberbullying in the UK alone. Social media sites and apps are making changes to help prevent trolling and cyberbullying, but, I personally think they can do a lot more. Users before profits etc.
Cyberbullying causes a host of mental health disorders and sadly, it is directly linked to suicides among teenagers. Schools in the UK are empowered to take very strict actions to stop cyberbullying, but how far can they go?. At the same time, parents can stand up for their kids and decide whether to take civil action. Either way, it’s important to nip the problem in the bud as soon as it comes to our attention.
It is vitally important to remember that cyberbullying can and does cause considerable harm to the victim. Something that may appear to be a simple incident could have extensive long-term implications for the victim(s).