1. What should you be protected from?
From “predators”. According to statistics, 12-14% of teens say that they knew their cyberoffenders in real life.
The worst thing is that they can be not only aggressive teenagers, but adults who lure children into meeting for sexual harassment.
You need to know that there are special programs that warn you about the messages from strangers. If some suspicious person tries to contact you, you will be notified and thus will be able to protect yourself against cyberbullying.
2. What should be protected first and foremost?
The first thing that should be protected is your personal information. Think superheroes. In order to stay safe themselves and protect their families, they keep all personal data secret. It’s exactly the same on the internet. The less strangers know about you, the less likely you are to suffer from cyberbullying.
Also, do not provide any personal information to suspicious sites. It’s not just about the name, last name and phone number, but also (especially!) about parents’ credit card numbers, home address and other confidential information that can be used by scammers.
3. How not to get into trouble?
Firstly, don’t follow the links to unfamiliar sites from people you don’t know. Emails or messages on social networks may contain the links that lead to malicious websites that will infect your computer with viruses.
Secondly, don’t click on suspicious banners. In fact, it’s better to never follow the banner links.
Thirdly, install a special computer program – antivirus – that will warn you about suspicious sites and files.
Fourthly, remember that pop-ups rarely lead to good sites. As a rule, pop-up windows with messages that look like messages from social networks are designed to infect your computer or lead you to some potentially dangerous sites.
4. Should I tell my parents about being bullied online?
Of course you should! They will figure it out anyway, because your parents know you better than anyone else. When you react to the attacks of cyberbullies you change a lot without noticing it: your behavior changes, you begin to spend significantly more (or the other way around – much less) time on the internet. So your parents will still notice that something is going on.
The sooner you openly tell them about what happened the better. Believe it or not, parents know much more ways of dealing with cyberattacks than you can imagine.
5. What exactly can you do together with your parents to stop cyberbullying?
You can unfriend or blacklist the “friends” that send you offensive messages and limit their access to your account. Parents can also install the program to track which of these children are online and to block their activity in relation to you.
You can also lock cyberbullies or report their messages as spam, insults and other violations to the administration of the site on which the communication occurs. Social networks have special buttons with the words “Offender”, “Ban” or “He annoys me”. You can also warn your friends that this particular user violates the rules of the site. You can also notify your ISP about the violations.
If your computer has been hacked, make sure that it is free from malicious software.
If there is still some malware left on your computer, the hacker can continue his cyberattacks, despite being banned by the internet provider. Most antivirus programs allow you to find and remove malicious software.
The next thing you can do together with your parents is notify school teachers and authorities that some of their students are engaged in cyberbullying. Of course, school staff has no right to anyhow punish children for that, but they’ll be likely to monitor the potential bullies more closely.
In the extreme cases of cyberbullying you can also notify the police. This option may be considered if the bully directly threatens you sending pictures, videos or messages with specific content.
6. Find out how simple daily life rules apply on the internet
“Do not talk to strangers and do not accept gifts from them”. Have your parents told you about it? Well, on the internet it’s all the same. Each user is a a stranger. Learn how to communicate with them safely. Do not disclose secrets, do not share personal information until you are sure that you know the person talking to you.
“Go home from school”. Yet another rule you are familiar with. On the internet, don’t go “wandering” on unfamiliar sites of weird subject matter. Use internet for studying and other useful things. Leave internet as soon as you find all the necessary information or enjoy the communication, movies and music on trusted sites.
“Do not start a fight”. In this case, do not initiate arguments and do not engage into fights on the internet.
“Do not steal”. Remember, when you download music or copy some game from your friend’s computer it’s ok. Being a good person means being good in everything. Respect the intellectual property rights. This way you will also protect yourself from viruses which are often found in pirated content.
“Don’t be too open”. Most people absolutely don’t want your personal information. And if someone tries hard to find out something about you, think about it: why would they need your phone number, your address or private information?
It’s better if you know all your social network friends personally.
7. Google yourself
The more you use internet services, the more information you leave behind. Google yourself and see if there is any unwanted information about you on the internet. For example, you have kept your account on some site, but you don’t use it anymore, or some old correspondence is now available to all. Follow the link and delete all unnecessary information yourself or send a request to the site administration.
Remember that you can not only google your name, but also email, phone number and address. Sometimes you can find a lot of “interesting” information about yourself, including fake accounts under your name.
Then google the same things, but in the “Images” section. Check to see if the search engine finds any unwanted photos with you in them or pictures with your name.
Remember, that if you send a request about the removal of any content from the site, you should get a reply in a week. If you don’t get any feedback, write them another email. If the second time you get no response and all content remains in its place, contact a specialist, for example at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. How to complain about inappropriate content or cyberbullies?
Sometimes all you can do to stop cyberattacks is email the website administration. You can ask the administrators to delete the offensive messages or even ban your cyberbully.
9. How to write an email?
In most cases, there’s a special button or link on the website. Usually you can find it at the bottom of the page or on the side. However, do not expect instant reaction. It’s been noticed that many internet providers and website owners do not immediately respond to such messages. And they have their reasons for that. They need a proof that you are the victim, and not a cyberbully yourself. Therefore, the more information you gather and present to them the better.
The severity of punishment for your offender will depend on how well you write your complaint.
Your email should include the following information:
- The date and time of cyberbullying incident.
- A copy of the message or image. It’s better to make a screenshot.
- Working link to your cyberbully’s profile and to the page with his message.
Within a week you should get an answer. If after a while the situation persists, send a follow-up email with a copy of all the previous ones attached.
10. Join the community against cyberbullying or create your own
In the Western countries there are many communities of active and talented children and teenagers, who volunteer to restore order on the internet. They create and show presentations at schools to improve the cultural level and awareness of internet users.
There are also special courses on various aspects of cyberbullying. Not only they can tell you how to protect yourself from bullies on the internet, but also what to do to quickly forget the insults.
Children in these communities learn how and where to communicate with other teens on the internet. They help prevent hundreds of potential cyberattacks disguised as harmless popup, games or messages. They also expose hundreds of adult “predators” that are trying to lure kids into meeting in real life.
And you can also create your own group of like-minded people and show cyberbullies their place!
11. Live a real life
It’s been proven that children whose life outside the internet is eventful and interesting fall for the tricks of cyberbullies much less often. They simply have no time for that! Rather than engaging in unnecessary disputes with cyberaggressors and browsing through questionable sites, they meet up with real-life friends, walk their pet dog and spend time with their parents.
It is also true that the more interests and entertainment you have in real life, the less time is left for cyberbullying.
12. What about the laws?
The number of cyberbullying incidents worldwide is growing. The survey in the US showed that two out of five children had dealt with cyberbullies on the internet (link). Therefore, the US authorities are actively working on the law against cyberoffenders (link).
To reduce the risk of cyberattacks, you need to be informed about the news from the world of internet and gadgets, establish clear rules for the use of computer technology, install special programs that can protect you from cyberbullies. And if you’ve already become a victim remember that a word spoken online is very inexpensive and doesn’t live for long.