Our Cyber Bullying FAQ Series Continues…
A6: The ways to protect yourself from cyber bullying are countless, and the benefits are manifold. With all the surrounding challenges and dangers, Internet safety has become an absolute necessity. Here are a few pieces of advice against cyber bullying that we believe are important, to avoid coming in contact with cyber bullying, ever.
- That everyone has access to your profile, including your parents, your teachers, the school administration, even your future employers, and perhaps the police, even if you have everything on your profile restricted to “friends only”. Don’t discuss things you wouldn’t want all of those people to know about, and never use language that you’d be embarrassed to use in front of adults, especially your parents.
- That people can and will use information you post to inflict harm upon you. We’re not saying you should be paranoid; careful and protective would be better words. Before you post anything, ask yourself if you’d want your worst enemy to know about it. Besides, we don’t advise adding people as “friends” unless you know them in real life, because even if you really do believe you know them, be wary; it’s not cool to pile up thousands of friends or followers on social networks, especially when you realize they have one hundred percent access to details about your life, ones that you willingly post.
- That there are predators out there who want to find you. Based on the information that you tell everyone who is in your online social network or who has access to your profile, someone could follow you. Your profile identifies who you are, what you do, where you live, what activities you enjoy, where you hang out (and sometimes the food you enjoy). Posting this kind of information on a constant basis gives people who don’t know you, or adult cyberstalkers, the room to think of how to get you.
PS: Your friends know how to find you without the need for a social network.
When it comes to cyber bullying, Beware of:
It’s generally cool to share pictures and videos of you and your friends, true. However, we strongly advise you to be discrete when you upload content on your profile, whether that was a picture, a video, or otherwise. Yes, your friends might find that picture of you acting funny at a party incredibly hilarious, but have you considered how your parents or your teachers would react in case they saw it? What if someone who actually wants to harm you sees it?
Also, remember that when a friend (or a stranger) takes a picture of you, and it ends up on their profile, everyone is allowed to see. Once a picture or a video is online, other people can download it, some of whom you don’t trust, and they can do whatever they wish to do with it. It’s just… not yours anymore.
- Password sharing
Treat your password like a toothbrush, and safeguard it with prying eyes. Never leave passwords or other identifying information where others can see it. Also, never give out this information to anyone, even your best friend. If others know it, take the time to change it at this very moment!
- Unidentified or unsolicited messages
In other simpler words… avoid opening emails, texts, and Facebook messages from people you don’t know, or from someone you probably know is bullying you. What to do then? Delete them without reading them, because, even if they’re not saying something mean or hurtful, they could contain viruses that automatically infect your device or hack your accounts. Moreover, beware of links that seem fishy. Clicking on those ends up spamming unwanted content or links everywhere and might contain viruses that are designed to collect every piece of information you have online, or track you some way or another.
Cyber Bullying Password Safety tips: What should I do?
So we’ve established that we will never share out social network, instant messaging, or email password with any of our friends. It is private, and friendships sometimes don’t last, so we better be careful…
- Don’t use passwords based on personal information, such as your login in name, your birth date, your address, mobile phone number, family/middle name, pet name, nickname, country name, and so on. (We’ve all done that at some point, haven’t we?)
- Use a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and non alphanumerical characters such as underscores and other symbols, if it won’t be too difficult.
- Change your password often. While it can be confusing and might take time, do it anyway, because it is more of a chore and much more time consuming trying to get a hacked account back.
- Do not place a written copy of your password on the side of your monitor, under your keyboard, under your mouse pad, etc. Figure out a secure place where you can store the passwords you write down – or, if possible – never write down any passwords; it is best to remember them by heart.
- Do not type passwords on computers that you do not own, control, or fully trust. Computers in Internet cafés, computer labs, airports, libraries, or similar public places should only be used for anonymous Web browsing, and not for logging into your online accounts.
- Remember your secret answer. When you create an online account, and it asks you to provide an accurate answer to a question you should know ‐ don’t treat it lightly or as a joke. Make sure it’s something you will remember months and years from now in case you have a problem at that time.
Finally, we have read an interesting suggestion on preventing cyber bullying. You could make your own acronym by creating a phrase that means something to you, and group together the first letter of each word. Use numbers and symbols when you can. Make sure the acronym you create has at least seven characters. For example:
• “Last week I fell down thirty stairs” (Lw1fd30$)
• “It’s 3am, I must be lonely” (I3amimbL)
• “My boyfriend got me a dog for Christmas” (mBFgm@d4C)
• Use short words separated by characters (d0g%d00r, c@ndystr1p).
Like the idea? Do it, and create your own acronym, and change your passwords right now!
- Post or share personal information online, including your full name, your address, your telephone number, which school you go to, your parents’ names, or your friends’ personal information. In private messages, never ever share your credit card number, or social security number.
- Share your password, unless your parents have agreed to not use it except in extreme cases.
- Meet anyone face-to-face with whom you’ve only made online contact. It is never a good idea to meet up with someone you have only spoken to online. While online friends can be great, and online communities can be amazing grounds for finding people with common interests; you should just be online friends. Always remember that not everyone online is who they claim to be… perhaps the picture, their age, and their entire identity is someone else’s. However, if you’ve grown more certain of their identity, tell a parent or an adult, perhaps they can come with you at least for the first time.
- Share “sexy” photos with anyone. Before sending that sexy image of yourself to anyone, no matter how close you are, ask yourself if you’d want your parents, grandparents, and the rest of the world to see. If your answer is no, then you probably should not share it. Bullies can use this picture as a tool to make your life miserable. Keyword: Keep your photos PG!
- Save passwords in form fields within web sites or your web browser for convenience, and don’t stay logged in when you walk away from the computer or cell phone. Don’t give anyone even the slightest chance to pose as you online through your device. If you forget to log out of Facebook when using the computer at the library, the next person who uses that computer could get into your account and cause significant problems for you.
- Be a cyberbully yourself. Remember to treat others how you would want to be treated. By being mean and hurtful to others online, you are telling everyone that you find it okay to hurt another, and you might be the next victim.
- Watch or forward mean messages, because it empowers bullies, and hurts victims even more. If you can, tell the bully to stop, and let them know that their immature harassment makes them look stupid. It’s time we let bullies know that their behaviour is utterly unacceptable. However, if you cannot stop the bully, at least try to help the victim and report the behaviour. Be a friend, not a bystander.
When it comes to Cyber Bullying It’s also important to:
- Set up privacy controls over your social networking accounts. If you restrict access of your online profile to trusted friends only, you are more likely to be safe. Most social networking sites like Facebook and Google + allow you the ability to pick what to share with “friends only”, but these settings must be configured and continuously revised to ensure maximum protection. Try to keep your profile as private as possible, and avoid adding anyone you don’t know or don’t trust to your profile.
- Google yourself, by searching your name in the popular search engines, like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc, and see what comes up. If any personal information or photo comes up, one that you would not a cyberbully to use to target or harass you, then quickly access the website on which it was posted and remove it before it becomes a problem. Try specially looking for images; it will show what it is about you that others can see, and make changes to what you don’t like.
- Take half a minute and pause before you post, especially anything that would compromise your reputation. Remember that people can be judgmental, and what you appear to be like online reflects on how they see you offline. Perhaps you might be denied a future scholarship or internship based on your online behaviour.
Remember that the answer to all trouble is one thing: Common sense
- It is rather easy for your intentions to be misunderstood online. You may type something out then realize how odd it looks, or that it does not properly say what you meant. Thinking carefully before you post anything is not a difficult task to do when compared to the drastic consequences that could result out of not thinking. It is also easy to get worked up because you disagree with something, or someone has annoyed you, but you should have a little more tolerance. Try and be cool, and respect other people’s opinions, thoughts and views. We can by no means get along all the time, but just because you don’t agree with them, it doesn’t mean you’ve got to be rude or abusive. A little more respect can do a lot.
- Be nice!
Whether you’re sending an email, having fun in a chat room or commenting on people’s posts in forums, it is important to be courteous and respectful. In other simpler words, follow the golden rule of manners: one should treat others the way he or she would like to be treated. Likewise, just as you treat others with respect in the real world, it is important that you apply these same basic rules online as well.
Part of being nice is helping new Internet users; we all were “newbs” once upon a time. Many teenagers who gain access to social networks, iPods, and laptops at first are unaware about how dangerous this technology can be if not used properly or if abused. Although it is truly normal to be excited about the lots of things the Internet enables us to do, especially connected with all our friends and classmates, we should be wary of the fact that those who abuse the privileges of the Internet do and will exist.
Everything can and will be tracked. For any inappropriate content on your profile, you can be held accountable, in case it violates the terms of service or acceptable use policies of the website you are using, or your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
- Learning is key
To prevent cyber bullying from occurring you must understand exactly what it is. Research what cyber bullying is about, as well as how and where it is most likely to happen, and what kind of person the cyberbully is. Talk to your friends about what they are seeing and experiencing, and form a better idea about the problem.
- After you’ve learn enough and helped your friends understand, then why not start a movement, create a club, build a campaign, or host an event to bring awareness to cyber bullying? While you may understand what it is, it’s not until others are aware of it too that we can truly prevent it from occurring.