CYBER AFFIRMATION vs CYBER BULLYING

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Real talk: I know cyber-bullying is an uncomfortable topic – hell, I feel uncomfortable just writing the words! When I hear ‘cyber-bullying’, what I think about are cheesey videos telling me not to talk to pedophiles and the not-so-subtle positioning of the family computer where my parents watch my little bro playing Minecraft.

Unfortunately for us, while we can pretend that these ineffective and awkward efforts don’t exist, it’s harder to ignore the reality of cyber-bullying. The truth is that cyber-bullying is becoming increasingly common, especially on sites like Facebook, with 54% of young people on the site experiencing some form of cyber-bullying (nobullying.com, 2014).

Cyber-bullying is defined as “when technology such as email, mobile phones, chat rooms, and social networking sites, are used to verbally, or socially bully another person:. This definition covers a range of things, e.g. sending or posting abusive or threatening messages, forwarding others’ personal emails or messages without their permission, uploading embarrassing or personal photos of someone without their permission, assuming someone else’s identity, and excluding someone online, just to name a few things.

I’m going to tell you the secret to ending cyber-bullying.

Are you ready? Here it is:

DON’T CYBER-BULLY PEOPLE.

Do not send threatening messages.

Do not post humiliating photos.

Do not pretend to be someone else.

Do not exclude people.

Do not make private conversations public.

It’s pretty simple, you guys.

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The easiest way for you to prevent online harassment is to refuse to participate, so if you see anything that resembles cyber-bullying, don’t join in, and let the instigators know that what they’re doing isn’t cool.

This being said, if someone is bothering you online there are things that you can do about it. The first thing you need to remember is that whatever anyone says about you is a reflection on them as a person, not you, you are awesome, my friend.

Experts agree that it is always best not to respond to any hateful messages, as the bully is most likely looking for some kind of reaction. Ignore, ignore, ignore, but screenshot and save messages so that you can use them as evidence if the need arises. You can also block users on most sites, and report them to the site administrator, you can even block peoples’ phone numbers if you contact your phone company. If anyone is posting things about you, you can report them for violating the sites community guidelines and their posts about you will be removed.

Another important thing to do is to tell people; remember that being bullied does not reflect badly on you, it is not your fault. Tell your friends, teachers or parents. I know that personally I’d find this very difficult, especially telling an adult about my problems. Although it sucks to have to let your parents/guardians/trusted adults in on your life, try not to see it as weakness and don’t stress about worrying them. As with all things, it’s better to have the support of your loved ones, you don’t have to deal with anything alone.

It’s also important not to sink to the bully’s level, responding to messages or starting your own cyber-bullying campaign against them will only make things worse. Hold your ground, but don’t fan the flames, my friends. I also think it’s worth repeating what I said before: don’t believe a thing they say. It doesn’t matter what they say/do you are an intelligent human being who is worthy of being loved, don’t let anyone destroy your self-esteem.

Ugh, so many emotions! Gross. Youth, I hope this article is useful to you (and that you didn’t pass out from my cloying sincerity). If you need anymore information take a look at the links below, there are a couple of helplines there as well that you can contact if you need to speak to someone.

What to do if I am bullied
What to do if you’re a victim of cyber-bullying

Signs your child is being cyber-bullied

Cyber-bullying and cyber safety: a guide

Cyber-bullying
If you want to talk to someone about cyberbullying, you can call Kids Helpline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 1800 55 1800

– Alex Mooney

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