Cyberbullying is defined as the use of electronic communication to torment a person, typically by sending hurtful or threatening messages. Other forms of cyberbullying include:
- Posting sensitive, private information about a person for the purpose of hurting or embarrassing that person
- Pretending to be someone else in order to make that person look bad and/or to intentionally exclude someone from an online group
- Making cruel websites about a person
- Spreading rumors online or through texting
Celebrities are the most common victims of cyberbullying because of their heightened online presence, but anyone with a social media account can be a target – men, women, and even children.
If you are being attacked online, it can create anxiety and stress and even possibly lead to panic attacks and depression. Your self-esteem, confidence, and social skills can also be affected. But don’t worry, there are ways you can restore some control over the situation. Below are 10 steps you can take if you are being cyberbullied:
- Do not engage. Those who cyberbully want you to react. But if you respond angrily, the one doing the bullying may feed off of that response and continue (or even escalate the severity of) the cyberbullying. Plus, there could be consequences for your response – they might turn the tables and accuse YOU of bullying them.
- Block/delete/ban the bullies. Out of sight is out of mind. But if the bullying still persists, proceed to step 3.
- Take screenshots of everything. Before you report the bully, keep evidence of all content (pictures, texts, emails, tweets, status updates, blog posts) that the person has sent or posted about you. You can even make screen recordings of Snapchat, Facebook, or Instagram Stories. You will need them as evidence when you proceed to step 4.
- Report it to your employer or the police. If the person harassing you is a co-worker, then your employer needs to know about it because it is preventing you from doing your job. If threats of physical harm are made, or if the cyberbullying starts to get more dangerous, you can file charges with the police.
6) Tighten up your privacy settings. Make sure that only those personally known to you have access to your content. If this still fails, proceed to the next step.
7) Change your profile on social media. Set up a new online account completely. Use a different name, photo, and even contact details.
8) Talk about it with someone. Talking to someone about what you are going through, even if it is just to vent, can be very therapeutic. They might have gone through similar situations and could be able to give you advice. If you think you may be experiencing overwhelming depression or anxiety, seek out counselling.
Never tolerate cyberbullying. Even a short duration of being a cyber-victim can impact your mental well-being. By taking the steps above, you can take back your right to live peacefully and safely.