Today, the majority of our communication takes place online. In fact, approximately
and of these, 70% report seeing frequent online bullying. 94% of students are interacting online daily
Known as cyberbullying, harassment that takes place on digital devices such as phones or computers can be extremely damaging to our mental health, and can even be considered criminal behavior – depending on how far it is taken.
Because it is easier to attack someone behind a screen, it continues to happen daily and has been linked to recent
. Yet regardless of how many and how frequently individuals are being targeted, social media giants have not found a way to completely eliminate cyberbullying. rises in teen depression and suicide
While this is an issue that is bigger than ourselves, we can still make an impact as individuals if we know someone being cyberbullied. Here’s how…
Don’t Rise to It
When someone you know is attacked online, it is our first instinct to respond and defend them or fight back in the comments. Don’t. The algorithms within social media platforms are made to boost posts and that have a lot of engagement and traction.
What hurts almost as much as online harassment, is when tons of people have publically viewed it. Help your friend by leaving it alone – do not create conversation and play into the trap. The more comments a post receives, the further it will be pushed to the top of a feed, giving the bully validation and deepening the wound.
What you can proactively do to ease the situation is report the post. Gather a group of friends and all report the post at the same time. The more people who report cyberbully related content, the quicker it will be taken down.
While we can’t control other’s behavior on social media channels, we can control what we post. As the saying goes, “You attract the energy you put out.” Practice what you preach and start by making a conscious choice to spread positivity on the channels you are active on. Make sure to follow back those who follow you, ‘like’ all of your follower’s posts, and compliment users in the comments section.
You might be surprised to find that this kind of behavior is contagious. Not only will your comment be followed by comments from other users following suit – you’ll start to see these followers engage back on your next post.
Remove Yourself From the Situation
If cyberbullying is getting out of hand, there are steps you can take to remove yourself from the situation to safeguard your metal health.
Most social media giants have setting options to disable the comments section on your posts. Opt in, and automatically feel the stress slip away – no more worrying what people might say, or not say; they can no longer weigh in!
If this isn’t enough, find an alternative way to connect with friends. There are so many apps that allow users to connect in a safe, private environment.
For example, the app
allows users to share content with the world without the blowback of comments from strangers. Users can allow two-way-conversation, only if they so choose, with people they know and have friended. Mindhive
Remember, if you are experiencing cyberbullying, you are certainly not alone. Do something about it to protect yourself and your friends. There will always be people who have harmful things to say, but that doesn’t mean we have to listen.
For more information on mental wellbeing, take a look at our dedicated advice section here.