If you use social media, you won’t have escaped the deluge of posts about the tragic loss of TV presenter Caroline Flack. Her suicide led to an outpouring of grief and thousands of posts about the need to ‘be kind.’
Sadly, Caroline had been a target for the media and for cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is being ‘trolled’ or bullied online via social networks, while gaming and when using mobile phones. Unlike other forms of bullying which take place face to face, cyberbullying by its very nature, follows someone wherever they go. A recent YouGov poll showed that a quarter of UK adults have experienced this kind of bullying at some point. Those aged 18 to 24 are the most likely to be cyberbullied. 55% of respondents in this age group say that they have experienced bullying online. The most common form of cyberbullying is harassment when a person sends abusive or hateful messages. Facebook is the most common platform for cyberbullying, followed by Twitter. Instagram was the worst place for 18-24-year-olds.
The effects of cyberbullying can be devastating to the victims. These effects can include;
- sadness, depression and anxiety
- low self-esteem
- social isolation
- suicidal thoughts and feelings
What can you do if you are being bullied online?
- Tell someone you trust if you are being cyberbullied. At tpm we have trained specialists who know how to help you; using our ”Online Safety Guidelines”
- Don’t respond or retaliate to bullying messages – it could make things worse
- Block users who send you nasty messages
- Save abusive emails or messages (or texts) you receive
- Make a note of dates and times you receive bullying messages, as well as details you have of the user’s ID and the url.
- Don’t pass on any cyberbullying videos or messages – passing them on is also considered to be cyberbullying
- If you experience bullying more than once, you must seek help and advice. We suggest you change your user ID or profile and use a name that doesn’t give any information away about you
- Visit bullying.co.uk – this is a website where trained counsellors can support you if you are being bullied, either by chatting online or by calling their free helpline. You can also find some top tips on how to stay safe.
- Visit thinkuknow.co.uk. This is the training we offer at tpm and is a useful website for young people staying safe online. You can find a link on every page of our website.
- You can also ask the police for advice. Some forms of online bullying will be dealt with very seriously by the police and can result in criminal charges.
- For a clear overview of how to stay safe online, read the tpm online safety guidelines
How can we make the internet a better and safer place for everyone?
Most people know the sayings about words not being able to hurt us. This simply isn’t true. In fact, words can hurt more. Before posting anything online, or sending messages, ask yourself these questions:
- What are you saying?
- To whom are you saying it?
- Who will it affect?
- How will this affect you down the line?
- Who is seeing what you are saying?
- How would you feel if you or your loved ones received or saw this post?
One of the ways to put an end to cyberbullying is by committing to being kinder when online. Why not join the Be Kind online movement.
Let us know what you’re doing to be kind online by using the tag #bekindtpm.