What Is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is when one person or a group of people try to threaten, tease or embarrass someone else by using a mobile phone or the internet. Cyberbullying is just as harmful as bullying in the real world. If you see it happening, report it. Don’t ignore it.
Are You A Part Of It?
Those who take part in online bullying often use a group of friends to target their victims by asking them to add a comment to a photo on a blog, or asking them to forward it onto another group of friends. Sometimes, these people don’t even realise they’re actually bullying someone.
What Forms Can It Take?
There are lots of different types of cyberbullying. These are the main ones:
- Email – Sending emails that can be threatening or upsetting. Emails can be sent directly to a single target, or to a group of people to encourage them to become part of the bullying. These messages or hate mails can include examples of racism, sexism and other types of prejudice. If someone sends you a message and you forward or laugh at it, you’re actually adding to the problem.
- Instant messenger and chatrooms – Sending instant messenger and chatroom messages to friends or direct to a victim. Others can be invited into the bullying conversation, who then become part of it by laughing.
- Social networking sites – Setting up profiles on social networking sites to make fun of someone. By visiting these pages or contributing to them, you become part of the problem and add to the feelings of unhappiness felt by the victim.
- Mobile phone – Sending humiliating and abusive text or video messages, as well as photo messages and phone calls over a mobile phone. This includes anonymous text messages over short distances using Bluetooth technology and sharing videos of physical attacks on individuals (happy slapping).
- Interactive gaming – Games consoles allow players to chat online with anyone they find themselves matched with in a multiplayer game. Sometimes cyber bullies abuse other players and use threats. They can also lock victims out of games, spread false rumours about someone or hack into someone’s account.
- Sending viruses – Some people send viruses or hacking programs to another person that can destroy their computers or delete personal information from their hard drive.
Abusing Personal Information
Many victims of cyberbullying have complained that they have seen personal photos, emails or blog postings posted where others could see them without their permission.
Social networking sites make it a lot easier for web users to get hold of personal information and photos of people. They can also get hold of someone else’s messaging accounts and chat to people pretending to be the victim.
The Effects Of Cyberbullying
Even though cyberbullying cannot physically hurt you, it can still leave you feeling mentally vulnerable and very upset. You can also feel scared, lonely and stressed and that there’s no way out.
Escaping cyberbullying can be very difficult. Because anyone can get access to a mobile phone or the internet almost anywhere, it can be tough for those on the receiving end to avoid it, even in the safety of their own home.
Why Do Cyberbullies Do It?
There’s no simple answer for why some people choose to cause pain to others by bullying them. There are lots of possible reasons, but here are some common ones:
- It can be simply a case of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time and allowing themselves to be easily intimidated
- Some people who cyberbully think that they won’t get caught if they do it on a mobile phone or on the internet
- The people who cyberbully are jealous, angry or want to have revenge on someone, often for no reason at all
- Cyberbullies often think that getting their group of friends to laugh at someone makes them look cool or more popular
- Some people also bully others as a form of entertainment or because they are bored and have too much time on their hands
- Many do it for laughs or just to get a reaction Staying Safe Online
It’s important to know how to stay safe when you’re using the internet. You should never give out any personal information when you’re online, no matter who you think you’re talking to.
Using The Internet
There are lots of sites around that allow you to talk to other people on the web. Chat rooms give you the chance to have a conversation with other people and get instant replies. Online message boards and forums let you post questions or comments and ask other users to give their opinion in their own time. It can be a great way to chat to other people who share your interests, but you should always be careful not to pass on any of your personal details. You should always keep in mind that internet users can pretend to be anyone they like. They can lie about their age, their interests and whether they’re male or female. No matter how long you’ve been chatting, remember that they’re still strangers; you don’t really know them at all.
Being Bullied Online
Internet bullying doesn’t only happen on social networks like Facebook and YouTube. Cyberbullies can use other ways to upset someone, like sending rude emails or instant messages.
Here are some examples of how people can be bullied online.
In some cases, bullies have built websites that are dedicated to making fun out of someone. Some of these sites encourage other people to join in with the bullying, by publishing someone’s personal details or linking to their social network page.
You may be getting nasty and threatening messages sent to your email inbox from an address that you don’t recognise. Bullies often try to keep their identity a secret by creating a new email account that doesn’t use their real name. You should treat your email address exactly the same as your home telephone or mobile number. Think carefully before you pass it on to anyone or decide to make it public on a website or a blog. It may be safer to only give out your email address to close friends or members of your family.
Chat Rooms And Discussion Forums
Message boards and chat rooms give you the chance to talk with other people who are interested in the same things as you.
- Supporters of the same football team can talk about how their players did in their last match
- Fans of a singer or band can talk about a new single or album
- You can swap tips and cheats with people playing the same video game as you
Even though most forum members are friendly, you may suddenly find yourself getting nasty comments and abuse. This is often for no reason at all, or because you disagreed with another member’s opinion. If you find yourself being victimised on a message board, contact the moderator. They will be able to delete the account of the person who is bullying you. Some discussion forums allow moderators to block the IP address of a user. This means that the bully will not be able to join the same internet forum with a new username from the same computer.
You may get rude messages on your instant messenger (IM) account from someone that you’ve agreed to be friends with. It can be a good idea to only add people you know in the real world to your instant messenger. Doing this means that you’re always sure that your IM friends are who they say they are. Even if you accept IM requests from people you only chat with online, it’s easy to block or remove anyone if things get nasty. Advice on protecting yourself online.
There are a few general rules you can follow to protect yourself when you’re using the internet.
Never use your real name as a username in a chat room, on your instant messenger account or as part of your email address. Don’t use a photo of yourself as an avatar on a discussion forum. If anything that you see or read on the internet makes you feel uncomfortable, tell a parent or someone else you trust. You can also report it to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).
Social Networking Sites
Some of you may have your own Bebo account or Facebook profile that lets you chat with friends or communicate with other users who share your interests. These ‘social networks’ let you create your own blog, upload photos and videos for others to see and add people to an online friends list. Social networks are a great way of keeping in touch but you should think carefully before adding someone to your list of online friends or posting a blog entry that could get you into trouble at school, college or work. Remember:
- Your page is still a public place, so putting anything on your page that you wouldn’t want your parents, teacher or boss to see is not a good idea
- You can never be sure that other users are being truthful about their online identities, so be careful about what information you give out
- To think about whether you know someone well enough before accepting someone into your group of linked friends
- To make sure you know who to contact to report abuse or bullying on your page and how your complaint will be dealt with
If you are looking for more information about staying in control of your page and how to get the most out of social networking sites, ThinkUKnow has all the advice you need.
Chat Room Safety
When you’re using a chat room or posting on a message board, never give out any personal information like your address or your phone number. You should always use a nickname, so no-one can look you up in a telephone directory and get your home phone number. It’s usually not a good idea to arrange to meet up with someone that you’ve been chatting to online.
Remember that you can never be sure that they’re telling the truth about their age or their interests and you could be putting yourself in danger. If you do want to meet up with someone you’ve met online, make sure that you discuss it with your parents beforehand. If they do agree, make sure that you arrange a meeting in a public place and that you take an adult with you.
Some websites will ask you to fill out a registration form before you can use them. While this is normal, it’s a good idea to find out what the website will do with your personal details. All companies that collect information have to tell their customers how personal information will be used. Make sure you check the website’s terms and conditions if you want to know. Some sites allow other companies to use details from their user database for market research purposes. Companies have to give you the chance to tell them if you don’t want your details to be used in this way. This is often done by having a tick box on the online registration page. If you don’t want your information to be used, tick that box before you submit your information. Protect yourself and your computer against online threats. Many people still don’t like shopping on the internet because they think their bank details are not safe. Luckily, shopping on the web is now just as safe as ordering goods over the telephone, as long as you follow a few common sense rules. If you do order goods over the internet, make sure that the company you’re buying from uses a secure shopping server. You’ll know if it is a secure site if a padlock icon appears at the bottom of your browser window, or the web address begins with ‘https:’. If it’s a company that you’ve never heard of before, search their site for any contact numbers and postal addresses. If they’re a respectable company, they won’t mind you giving them a quick call to ask them a few questions. Also, make sure that you never send your bank details to anyone in an email. Banks and online stores will never ask you to do this as it is not a secure way of sending information.
If you do receive an official-looking email that asks you to send your financial details, you should never reply as you could become a victim of identity fraud.
Bullying On Mobile Phones
Receiving a rude text message or a threatening call on your mobile phone from a bully isn’t just upsetting. It can be a criminal offence. If you are being bullied on your mobile phone, don’t reply and let someone know as soon as possible.
How Can You Get Bullied On A Mobile Phone?
Cyberbullying isn’t just something that takes place on the internet. You can also be cyberbullied if you get abusive calls and text messages on your mobile phone. These calls, text messages and voicemails can be really upsetting, and it is often hard to understand how the sender knows your mobile phone number. If you think you are being bullied on your mobile phone, the most important thing is not to respond or get into an argument. Bullies are usually cowards, so showing a reaction is just giving them what they’re after. At the same time, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it and do nothing.
Types Of Mobile Bullying
There are many ways that you can get bullied through your mobile phone.
- Scary phone calls – Victims of mobile phone bullying can receive abusive phone calls from someone who uses threats of violence to scare them. Some bullies choose to stay silent on the other end of the phone, which is confusing and worrying for the person who answers the call.
- Abusive text messages – People who bully sometimes send text messages that try to scare, upset or hurt someone on purpose. Getting a message like this can be frightening, especially if it is from someone you don’t know.
- Offensive picture messages – You may also be worried about photos and images that you have been sent over your mobile phone. These could be pictures of you that have been taken without your knowledge. They could also be pictures that show you in situations that you would rather keep private.
- Embarrassing or violent videos – Most mobile phones come with a video camera now, which means being filmed without knowing it can happen more often. If you’re being bullied over your mobile phone, you might even see embarrassing mobile phone videos of yourself posted on video sharing websites like YouTube. You may also have heard of ‘happy slapping’, where victims are physically assaulted and a video of the attack is then posted on the internet.
How To Stop Mobile Phone Bullying
Even though it’s a hassle, the best way to stop mobile phone bullying is to get another SIM card or change your mobile number. Once you have a new phone number, only give it out to members of your family and close friends. If you get a bullying text, save it in your inbox. You should also make a note of the time you received the message, and the sender’s details. Do not delete the message from your inbox. Even though you might want to, the police or your mobile phone company may need it if they investigate.
Don’t Suffer In Silence
If you are being targeted by mobile phone bullies, it’s important to let someone know. If you feel uncomfortable talking to a parent or a teacher, try another older relative or friend who you trust.
They will be able to help you stop the bullying. You should also report the bullying to your mobile phone company. They may be able to trace the person who is calling or texting you, even if they withhold their number. Mobile phone companies all deal with bullying differently, so contact the customer helpline to find out who to speak to. If you would like more confidential advice, you can contact ChildLine.
The Police And Mobile Phone Bullying
Making offensive calls is actually a criminal offence. Anyone who is found guilty could have to pay a large fine. They may also be given a six-month sentence. If you are being bullied over your mobile phone, don’t be afraid to report it to the police