I love social media and the modern world of technology. But it does come with its dangers. Let me be clear, social media itself is not the enemy. There has been so much misuse of this new technology. Some time on purpose sometimes without knowing and by mistake.
I am heartbroken by the clips recently shown online from This Mornings discussion of cyberbullying and children taking their own lives. This is all PREVENTABLE! Please please please, think twice, hell think three times. Is that message going to help or could it lead to a horrific outcome?
Old school bullying was much easier to see. It happened in the school yard or the class room. There was a physical scene and visible injuries where left. This is clearly bad. When this happens though support is often given fairly quickly because the incident and or affects can be seen. Cyberbullying is not always the visible.
Thanks to direct / private messages, WhatsApp, Messenger and more we can almost all be contacted at anytime. That could be in a group chat or directly. If your at school, college, uni or work, no longer can you just go home and leave it all outside the door. Nope. It comes into your house and into your bedroom. Its probably in your pocket.
That lack of escape means young people particularly (in my opinion) are at a much greater risk than many of us know. Its very likely the person or people looking after you did not have to deal with this type of media as a child or young person. So there can be a lack of thought and discussion on the dangers that can come with being online. But also the 'new' way bullying is happening. Even if your not online, other people could be. While they are there they could be saying very nasty things about you.
Cyberbullying can lead to many things: blackmail, grooming, abuse, shaming, mental health illnesses, self harming and even suicide.
There are ways WE can try to lower our risk of cyberbullying and the effect to could have.
REPORT - If you feel unhappy, uncomfortable or unsafe about something that you have received. Please tell someone. Most sites have report buttons, use them! Tell someone, talk to your adults, friends, teachers, bosses.
PRIVACY SETTINGS - Make sure you have checked you privacy settings. This is something young people often seem more aware of that those of us in a slightly older generation. On most social media sites you are able to set you account to private. Along with limiting what people can see, even if they are your friends.
DONT BE A BYSTANDER - If you see something you don't think is appropriate, report it. You can pretty much always do that on the page / site your viewing. If you know the person being affected, check in with them, are they ok? Tell a teacher, parent, boss. Someone will be able to help you and the other people involved. Just because one person posts it that doesn't mean its ok, don't let someone else tell you something is ok when you know its not!
Often people being attacked will not reach out for various reasons. Please don't let them suffer, stand up, speck up.
Once its online its there! Ok so Steve maybe able to delete that crappy DM he sent me telling me to kill myself. But it will still exist in the cloud or servers or whatever. Yes, Im not going to be able to find that evidence, but the Police will be!
Record bullying and report it, do not reply to it.
Cyberbullying is such a massive topic, I am only touching on a few thoughts. If you have been affected, or think yo may know someone who is. There is more information at Bullying UK and Internet Matters.
Additionally if you feel that you or a friend needs to talk to someone, please contact the Samaritans anytime!