Cyberbullying in Teens: How to Cope
With the rise of technology and social media in recent years, bullying has taken form on a new medium. Bullying others online, also known as cyberbullying, has become a new method for those with malicious intentions to act. The RCMP defines cyberbullying as “the use of communication technologies such as the Internet, social networking sites, websites, email, text messaging and instant messaging to repeatedly intimidate or harass others”.
While traditional bullying may only affect the victim in the vicinity of the bully, cyberbullying is constant as the grasp of technology today can allow for one to constantly be bullied through the internet.
Methods of Cyberbullying:
Cyberbullying can be perpetrated in several ways including:
Creating fake online personas of someone
Sending mean or threatening messages
Posting photos of someone without their permission
Encouraging others to attack someone online
Cyberbullying usually has similar effects on victims as regular bullying, however it is much more intense as the bullying cannot be as easily avoided.
Avoidance of social settings
Weight loss or gain
How to Cope:
Understand that a bully’s goal is to get a reaction out of you, and cause you to feel a certain way. If you begin to tackle the issue with such a mindset, it will be easier to understand the true motives of the cyberbully. Avoiding an online bully can be as simple as “blocking” their phone number or social media account, but that is not always the case. Because cyberbullies are developing new methods of intimidation and harassment, the methods of coping and dealing with each individual scenario are always unique.
Steps to stop cyberbullying:
Step 1: Documentation
Document every interaction you have with the bully, even if it is just one-way communication from them. You will need this information in case you need to prove their actions. This can be achieved through taking screenshots, screen recordings, and other screen capturing methods. Keep these images safe in the case that they are necessary.
Step 2: Tell an adult that you trust
Whether it is a parent, guardian, or teacher, tell a trusted adult about what is happening, and they will be able to help you find a solution to stop the bullying. In case you do not have a trusted adult, you can use the KidsHelpPhone website to anonymously talk to someone urgently. (kidshelpphone.ca)
Step 3: Report
If the bully goes to your school or another school, contact school administrators and let them know about the individual and what they have done. In the case you do not know who the bully is, for example, if they are hiding behind an anonymous account that is impersonating you, then report the account and its followers to school administrators so they can help take further action. If the bullying is in contradiction with the law, contact local police.
Step 4: Know the Signs
If you know someone is showing symptoms of being a victim of cyberbullying, ask them about what they may be going through if they feel comfortable enough to share it with you. Encourage them to tell an adult about what they are facing, and be as supportive as you can.
All in all, cyberbullying is a 21st century form of bullying that we cannot ignore. We must take the steps necessary to stop online bullying, and recognize the symptoms of someone being bullied. By standing up against cyberbullies together, we can stop people from becoming victimized by cyberbullies, and perhaps even help cyber bullies realize their wrongdoing.
Remember, never post anything online that you would not be comfortable with a parent or teacher seeing. If you have to think twice, chances are you should not.