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Family sitting on a couch while surfing on the internetFamily sitting on a couch while surfing on the internet

When used safely, the internet can be a lot of fun. It allows us to connect with our friends and family, share ideas and stay informed. But there are some risks and dangers too, which we should all be aware of. One of these risks is cyberbullying.

Watch the video below and read on to find out more about cyberbullying, the effects it can have, how to deal with it and some social media safety tips.

What is Cyberbullying?What is Cyberbullying?

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that uses technology, such as apps & the internet, to target another person. It can happen anytime, anywhere and on any platform, from social media sites and email to messaging apps, chat rooms, and even computer games.

Cyberbullying involves harassing, threatening or humiliating a person. It might start directly online, or it might be a continuation of offline bullying such as at school.

Types of cyberbullying

There are many different types of cyberbullying. Some examples include:

  • Sending hurtful messages directly or via social media posts
  • Spreading false rumors, gossip or images
  • Deliberately leaving out people from messages in a group
  • Sharing personal information or revealing someone’s secrets in public
  • Making others feel unsafe by leaving scary or threatening messages

Cyberbullying on social media

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always think if it can hurt someone’s feelings and how would you feel if that message or post came to you.

On social media, cyberbullying can be difficult to stop as posts can spread quickly – by the time one is removed, there could be five more – and because social media is something we can access all the time it can feel too much.

Before posting anything in social media:

Effects of cyberbullying

Someone who is being cyberbullied might start to think badly of themselves, or feel sad, lonely or nervous. They might lose confidence or have problems at school or with friends. It’s important to know that what you are experiencing is not your fault and there is support out there for you.

How to stop cyberbullying

There are a number of ways you can prevent and stop cyberbullying.

  1. Ask for help

    Don’t be afraid to talk to your parents, teachers or a trusted adult. They can offer you support, advice and help you to report what’s happening to the relevant websites or social media platforms. Talking to others about how you’re feeling can also help you feel less alone.

    You can also contact independent support services, such as Childline which is available online at childline.org.uk, or via phone on 0800 1111 if you are under 19 years of age.

  2. Adjust your privacy settings

    You can adjust your privacy settings to stop unwanted messages coming through, or so that only people you know and trust can see what you post. If you’re struggling to do so, ask a parent or teacher to help.

  3. Avoid retaliation

    It can be difficult but try not to respond by sending the cyberbully similar posts or spreading rumours about them, it will only make you fall into a horrible trap of becoming a cyberbully yourself. Instead, make sure you’re spending time offline with the people you care about.

Daughter and mother sitting on a couch while looking at a phoneDaughter and mother sitting on a couch while looking at a phone

Some other dangers of social media

1 Fake social media profiles:

There are people on social media who are not who they say they are. To help identify fake profiles, watch out for these signs:

  • Usually has very few or no actual pictures of the person
  • It was created recently
  • Has very few or no contacts in common

2Over sharing information without realising it

For example through hidden info on your photos:

  • Photos contain EXIF data - information about the camera you took the photo with that allow the receiver to trace where the photo was taken.
  • Check out this article on how to remove EXIF data from your photos and how to stop your phone automatically collecting location data when you take a photo.
Teacher and student looking at a laptopTeacher and student looking at a laptop

Staying safe on social media

Try the following advice for cyberbullying and to stay safe online:

1 Use safe passwords and change them often

  • Try a combination of letters (lowercase & uppercase), numbers and special characters.
  • Avoid using your name, email address, birth date or other easy to guess information.

2 Don’t tell anyone your social media passwords or let them see you logging in

  • If you do so, change the password as soon as possible.

3 Sign out of your accounts

  • If you’re using a public or anyone else’s computer be sure to sign out of your accounts before leaving the computer.

4 Think twice before you post anything online because once it’s out there it’s very difficult to completely remove it

  • It is easy for people to screenshot your post.
  • Comments may be taken out of context and cause damage to you in the long term.
  • Think especially carefully before posting anything that may cause damage or hurt anyone. Cyberbullying is not ok – and can have an enormous negative effect on someone’s life.
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No one deserves to be bullied offline, or online.

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