Stop Cyberbullying: 7 Key Steps to Protect Yourself on Social Media
Every day, the urgent need to stop cyberbullying echoes louder. What is cyberbullying, and why has it become such a concern in our online world? From the troubling effects of cyberbullying to the alarming rise of bullying on social media platforms like TikTok and Snapchat, understanding this modern menace is the first step towards combating it.
This blog explores cyberbullying prevention strategies, aiming to empower everyone, from concerned parents to tweens.
The Effects of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is online bullying, and it’s growing more pervasive year after year. Recent reports and surveys shed light on its widespread impact and the urgent need for more effective cyberbullying intervention.
The mental health repercussions for victims of bullying are severe. Ditch the Label reports that victims suffer from anxiety (44%), depression (36%), and even suicidal thoughts (33%).
And it doesn’t just affect teenagers and children, either. Additionally, the Pew Research Center’s “Online Harassment 2021” report brings to light that 41% of Americans have experienced some form of online harassment, with severe forms affecting 25% of individuals. Social media platforms are the primary venue in 75% of cases. This statistic is echoed in the “Cyberbullying June 2018” report by Ipsos, which identified social media as the most common platform for cyberbullying globally.
7 Effective Strategies to Combat Cyberbullying
1. Report the Bully
If you receive or witness a hurtful comment online, you should report it. Here’s how to do it on various platforms:
- Instagram: Tap the three dots above the post, select “Report,” choose “It’s inappropriate,” and follow the prompts to report bullying or harassment. For more details, visit Instagram Help.
- Snapchat: Press and hold on the Snap, then tap the flag button to “Report Snap.” Choose the reason for reporting. For a detailed guide, check out Snapchat Safety Reporting.
- TikTok: Press and hold on the video, comment, or profile, tap “Report,” and follow the instructions. Visit TikTok Support for more information.
- Discord: Right-click on the message, select “Report,” and choose the appropriate category for reporting.
- Roblox: Click on the three dots next to the user’s name or the game’s title, select “Report Abuse,” and follow the prompts. Find more details at Roblox Help.
However, 79% of the public believes that social media companies perform poorly in handling online harassment. Reporting alone is not enough. There’s a pressing need for us to step up and take a more proactive stance.
2. Document the Harassment & Abuse
One of the defining aspects of cyberbullying, as opposed to traditional bullying, is the presence of digital evidence. While face-to-face bullying often becomes a case of one person’s word against another’s, cyberbullying leaves a digital trail that can be captured.
Document this evidence by taking screenshots. Even if you’re not ready to act immediately, preserving this evidence lets you act on it in the future if you choose to do so. For example, you can report the abuse to online platforms, contact support networks, or seek legal advice in the worst-case scenario.
While it seems counterintuitive to save pictures of cyberbullying, having a record of the abuse can also be psychologically empowering. It validates your experience, making it more than just a subjective claim.
3. Call the Bully Out
Cyberbullying isn’t just an individual problem; it’s a community issue. While reporting the bully is a crucial step, directly calling them out can also be a powerful act.
If you feel comfortable and safe, leave a comment on the post where the bullying is happening. Keep your tone firm but respectful. You can also like such comments if you can’t write them yourself.
If you’re hesitant to engage publicly, consider sending a private message to both the bully and the victim. For the bully, a message could be, “I noticed your comment on [post]. I think it was hurtful, and I wanted to let you know that it’s not okay.” To the victim, “I saw what happened and I want you to know you’re not alone.
4. Block Them
Blocking the bully is not a sign of weakness or avoidance; it’s a proactive measure to safeguard your well-being. By blocking them, you effectively cut off their access to you.
Here’s how to do it across different platforms:
- Instagram: Go to the bully’s profile, tap the three dots in the top right corner, and select “Block.” This will remove them from your followers, and they won’t be able to see your posts or stories.
- Facebook: Click on the bully’s profile, click the three dots under their cover photo, and select “Block.” This prevents them from seeing your timeline, tagging you, inviting you to events or groups, starting a conversation with you, or adding you as a friend.
- Twitter: Navigate to the bully’s profile, click on the three dots next to their name, and select “Block @[username].” They will no longer be able to follow you or view your tweets.
- Snapchat: Press and hold the bully’s name, tap “More,” and then “Block.” This way, you can them from your contacts and stop them from sending you snaps or seeing your stories.
- TikTok: Go to the bully’s profile, tap the three dots at the top right, and select “Block.” They won’t be able to see your videos or interact with them.
- Discord: Right-click on the bully’s username, select “Block,” and they will no longer be able to send you direct messages or ping you in servers.
Blocking someone on social media also includes making your account private or adjusting your settings to control who can see your posts, comment on them, or send you messages.
5. Keep Your Personal Information to Yourself
The protection of personal information is important, especially in the context of cyberbullying. Sharing too much information online can inadvertently give bullies ammunition to use against you.
Here are some basic cybersecurity tips that can help stop cyberbullying:
- Be cautious about what personal information you share on social media. Don’t share anything you wouldn’t want the whole world to know.
- Regularly review and adjust your privacy settings on social media platforms. Your posts should only be visible to friends rather than to the public.
- Before posting anything, consider how it could be used by someone with malicious intent.
- Avoid sharing sensitive photos, location check-ins, or information about your current or future locations.
- Use strong, unique passwords for each social media account and enable two-factor authentication where available.
- Accept friend requests or follow-backs only from people you know and trust.
For more information on the topic, read our blog on protecting personal information online.
6. Talk About It
If you’re being cyberbullied, don’t keep it to yourself. Talk to someone you trust – a parent, a friend, a teacher. Sometimes, parents talking to the bully’s parents can lead to positive outcomes.
7. Spend More Time Offline
Too much of anything isn’t good, and that includes social media. Sometimes, stepping back can make all the difference. Whether it’s exploring new hobbies, spending quality time with loved ones, or simply enjoying the tranquility of your own company, these offline moments can greatly enhance your mental and emotional well-being.
By finding a healthy balance between your online and offline lives, you’re taking a crucial step towards a more fulfilling and grounded existence.
Final Thoughts on Stopping Cyberbullying
In conclusion, stopping cyberbullying is about empowerment, awareness, and community action. It’s a collective effort involving each of us, from reporting harmful content to engaging in open conversations.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Race Communications can also help to stop cyberbullying. By offering parental controls through our mobile app, we help parents monitor their children’s online activities. Together, we can make the Internet a safer place.