Social media and online communities are all fun and games, until they’re not. Though being called names online may seem like “no big deal,” that is one of the most common forms of online harassment.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 59% of teens have been bullied or harassed online. In addition to name calling, spreading of rumors and receiving explicit images are two other common types of cyber bullying.
Though parents and teachers are good people to talk to about cyber bullying issues, it’s also important to know your rights and how to take charge of the situation. Below are a few different types of online harassment that you should know, and ways you can handle them. These tips and the infographic below provided by Panda Security.
When someone uses various platforms (ex. social media, email, instant messaging) to repeatedly harass you. Cyberstalking can be a federal offense, and may also have state-by-state laws. If someone is cyberstalking you, make sure to collect evidence to present to parents and/or authorities. You should also set your social media accounts to block accounts that are harassing you.
When a person uses your name or persona without your content and with the intent to harm. For example, if someone creates a fake social media account in your name to ruin your reputation. Report social media accounts that impersonate you immediately.
When someone creates a fake online identity for the purpose of starting a relationship and/or tempting you to meet up with them. You are especially at risk if you are on dating sites or apps. Be careful when talking to strangers online and do not provide them with too much personal information like where you live. Never meet them in person alone.
When your personal information is published online with the purpose of others harassing you. This is not illegal if your information is gathered from public accounts — be careful when you put too information like your email or phone number online. You should also Google your name to see what’s accessible to strangers and make sure your social accounts are private to avoid being spammed.
When someone makes controversial comments in order to provoke arguments or emotional responses. Trolling is not a crime and may just be a “joke.” However, trolling can also lead to hurt feelings and may start rumors — if you notice someone trolling your or a friend, do not respond. If their trolling is inappropriate, report them to the website.
In addition to understanding different forms of cyber bullying, you should also familiarize yourself with your school’s anti-bullying policies. At many schools, there are consequences for students who are cyber bullies, just like if someone where physically bullying you. Remember to document instances of bullying with screenshots, since the bully may decide to delete their comments later. And remember, being cyber bullied isn’t something to be embarrassed about! Parents and friends are there to support you and help you handle the situation so that it doesn’t happen to others.