What should you do when you get a mean message or when your child is being teased on social media? How should you react? What can you do to protect yourself? To coincide with Safer Internet Day on February 7, 2023, we’ve come up with 10 tips to help you overcome cyberbullying.
- Know the various forms of cyberbullying
According to the City of Montreal Police Department, cyberbullying is the act of harassing someone or sending threatening, hateful, insulting, or degrading messages, via images or words. Cyberbullying can happen:
- On social media
- In instant messages
- By email
- In a chat room (e.g., for online gaming)
- In a forum
- Don’t share personal information
Everyone knows not to share their address or date of birth publicly online. But bullies can pick up on other types of information, such as the name of your child’s school or your work schedule. Before posting something, ask yourself if anyone could use it against you.
- Check your privacy settings
Social networks often change their privacy settings. Select the most restrictive so that your posts are only seen by people you’ve authorized.
- Monitor activity on your devices
If you have a Helix Internet plan, you can turn on Advanced Security in the Helix Fi app to monitor activity on devices connected to your Wi-Fi network. This feature will notify you if a third party accesses a device’s camera or if one of your devices connects to a malicious site, for example.
Parental controls are another useful prevention tool. You can use them to limit the online content (and block explicit or inappropriate content) your child can access when they’re connected to your home’s Wi-Fi network. By activating Parental Control, your child is less likely to end up on sites where people post inappropriate comments.
- Check search engines
Google your or your child’s name to see what comes up. Are there any photos or videos you didn’t authorize? You can ask Google to delete them.
- Recognize the situation
If you or your child feels hurt, angry, or ashamed as a result of hostile online activity, you are a victim of cyberbullying. Recognizing what’s going is the first step toward solving the problem.
- Block malicious users
Don’t hesitate to remove a bully from your list of friends or block them in your contacts without responding. Ignoring the offender is often the best defence!
- Save the evidence
Take screenshots of intimidating messages. Print them out, if possible. Note the date and time they were sent. Having these details on hand will help you better present the situation to the authorities.
- Report it
You can report cyberbullying to school administrators or your human resources department at work. Then report it to the website or social network administrator. If it happened by email, notify your ISP. You can also report bullying anonymously as a bystander. Finally, if the threat appears serious, immediate, or illegal, contact your local police department.
- Take care of yourself
To recover from bullying, it’s a good idea to log out of certain platforms or delete your accounts altogether. You don’t have to deprive yourself of the Internet over a long period of time (after all, as a victim you should not be the one to feel restricted). Just let the dust settle for a while until you’re ready to come back, stronger than ever.
And don’t hesitate to use the resources available to help you get through the ordeal:
Transparency and compassion
The best way to stifle online bullying is to talk about it. Have open and honest conversations with your loved ones. Talk to your children about their online activity and let them know they should tell someone if ever they feel uncomfortable with a situation. No one should be ashamed that they have been cyberbullied, regardless of the context. By taking good care of yourself or someone who is a victim, you’re helping to make the Internet a safer place for everyone.