Cyberbullying and self-esteem problems?
If you are a techno-savvy teenager with social media accounts, chances are that you’ve dealt with it at some period of time or the other. According to Cyberbullying statistics from the i-SAFE foundation:
- More than 50% of adolescents and teens in the US have been bullied online
- 58% of the kids in the US bullied online never reported the incident to their parents or guardians
- 53% of kids surveyed admit to having cyberbullied others by indulging in mean or hurtful comments online
Although there are no reliable statistics available for India, cyberbullying is on the rise in the country. In 2017, there was a PIL to ban the ‘Blue Whale Challenge‘ which made several teens suicidal. It was reported that over 10 students across the country committed suicide due to the Blue Whale Challenge and its provocative chats.
A recent research published in the Journal of School Health finds cyberbullying can affect the self esteem of the victim negatively.
Why is online trolling on the rise?
Let’s be real, people think it’s easy to act weird and creepy with a layer of anonymity on the internet without having to undergo face to face interactions. No one can trace who actually was ‘Angel Priya’ or ‘Cool Rahul’.
Have you ever been in a situation when your friends keep making fun of you on Instagram even after you asked them to stop? Have you ever been at the receiving end of a stream of abuses and insults hurled at you online? Here is how to protect yourself against cyberbullying.
1. Learn Safe Online Behavior
Just like when you’re going out in India, you learn how to take care of yourself and what to do in case a threatening situation arises, there’s nothing wrong in learning safe online behavior. I’m not saying that it’s your fault if you’re in the situation but learning how to be safe on the internet reduces some of the chances.
Safety tips include being extremely careful in giving your sensitive information to others, updating and managing your passwords carefully, thinking twice before talking to unknown people on Messenger and not sending sensitive media to people you don’t know or trust.
2. Refusing to Retaliate and Respond As A Victim
It is a widely known fact that bullies depend on attention to fuel their behavior. Chances are if you don’t respond or retaliate, the bully will go away after several attempts to get to you. This also sends a direct message to the bully- “This is not okay and I’m not okay with this.”
Blocking and reporting people is also a good tactic as all social media sites have these buttons!
3. Monitor Your Online Footprint
People can misuse your image on the internet which eventually would affect your personal life and relationships. There are perverts who can photoshop your image and spread it across your friends’ circle.
Therefore, one of the best ideas is to just go to google.com and search in your name and usernames. See what pops up and if it’s something people can use against you later, try to remove it whether it means deleting the social media account or reporting to the webpage host.
Be careful of the image you upload online because it can always be used as proof to harass you later on.
4. Keep Your Privacy Settings to The Maximum
If you don’t want unnecessary complications in your personal life due to stalkers or perverts, make your profile private on Instagram and Facebook to ensure that the only people viewing your content are the people that you approve. Keep away from malicious spam links. This helps reduce the chances of unknown people trying to exploit you.
With this, it is also important to note that cyberbullying can also come from people that you know. This ensures the need to think before you post something online. A well-known piece of advice is to avoid posting anything you wouldn’t want your parents, teachers or potential employers to see.
5. Take a Stand Against Cyberbullying As A Friend
According to this article, cyberbullying stops within 10 seconds when someone intervenes. It may make you wonder that you may be the next target if you get involved with the bullying. But bullies often quit when they notice someone is actively making an effort to support the victim.
Besides, it is not that hard. You don’t need to attack the other person physically. Just a message like “That’s not really nice.” or “Woah, why are you attacking them?” calls attention to their behavior. With your lead, others may follow which puts the bully in their place.
Cyberbullying and self esteem problems can be solved by mutual cooperation. Although the victim shouldn’t retaliate, as a friend(s) you should step in as a support.
Cyberbullying can be prevented by maintaining some strict code of conduct. Schools can even play a big role in preventing cyberbullying. Internet Safety and cyberbullying prevention programs should be incorporated in the school curriculum.
Students should be made aware of the phishing pages and internet privacy. Moreover, educators need to intervene in cyberbullying incidents if they come across it. Failure to act immediately may impact the learning ability of students at school.
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