Bullying doesn’t just take place at school or on the playground anymore. Now that we spend so much of our lives online, bullying via social media, text, or email has become very common. It’s a problem known as cyberbullying, and it can cause feelings of anger, frustration, hurt, and sadness that can affect the victim’s daily life. With approximately 42 million Americans dealing with mental health issues and anxiety, the last thing anyone needs is additional pain or stress. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to escape the feelings that come with being bullied, whether the unwanted attention is coming in person, on your phone, or on your computer! So, what do you do if you’re feeling trapped? If you or your child are feeling the effects of cyberbullying, here are 11 ways to positively manage the problem and push past the negativity of this behavior.
Understand what cyberbullying is… and isn’t
Are you being cyberbullied? Before you take steps to manage the problem, it’s important to know what cyberbullying is–and isn’t. Cyberbullying is something that occurs when a person–usually a child or teen–deliberately (and usually repeatedly) causes humiliation or hurt to another child or teen using an electronic medium like text message, chat rooms, forums, or social media. Because it is electronic, it has a greater reach, and bullies can stay anonymous.
Cyberbullying isn’t a one-time thing. If the cruel behavior is repeated, or has the strong potential to be repeated, that’s bullying. However, if one mean message is sent, or the message doesn’t seem like targeted harassment, the behavior probably hasn’t crossed the line into bullying yet.
Save evidence of cyberbullying
If you are starting to feel like certain interactions online are progressing into bullying, get evidence. Posts can be deleted after an accusation is made so that bullies can deny doing anything wrong, but if you snap a screenshot on your phone or computer, you’ve got evidence that someone is targeting you. Save those screenshots in their own folder in case you need them in the future.
Block communication from cyberbullies
It’s common advice to “just ignore” bullies’ behavior. Fortunately, that’s a little bit easier to do online in many cases. With most applications allowing you to “block” certain users from communicating with you, you can use these options to avoid harassment. That way you won’t be tempted to answer cruel messages.
Speak with a school counselor
Your counselor is a great resource when it comes to cyberbullying. Whether or not you suspect that someone in your school is your tormentor, your counselor will have strategies you can use for dealing with the abuse. They’ll also be able to take action on your behalf if the problem is from within your own school. Counselors care about your safety and want to help!
Shake it off with some Taylor Swift (or other music)
Bullies got you down? Shake it off with some of your favorite tunes! Music can help boost your mood, and it can take your mind off what’s going on online. Whether it’s Taylor Swift or another artist, get musical help in dealing with cyberbullying!
Don’t blame yourself
If you’ve been the target of cyberbullying, it’s very important to remember that it’s not your fault. Bullies are usually dealing with their own problems, and they deal with them inappropriately by making others feel bad. As a victim, it’s tempting to blame yourself, but don’t fall into this trap. Bullying is wrong, and it’s not your fault.
Pause before you post
Before you post on social media, forums, or any public platform, and before you even send a private message, take a minute to think. As soon as something is posted, you can’t take it back. You can delete it, but anyone who sees it before you do can take a screenshot and use it against you. Don’t post anything with sensitive information, don’t send compromising pictures, and think about whether or not anything in your post could be used against you before you click “post.”
Learn how to deal with stress
You can’t control the actions of others, but you can control your own reactions. The best strategies for dealing with stress are very individual–for you it might involve taking a walk when you’re upset, playing a game, or just taking deep breaths. Try a few methods to see what works.
Spend some time off your computer/phone
Frustrated? Walk away and unplug! Remind yourself that there’s more to life than the devices we use. Spend some time off your computer and phone to reconnect with yourself.
Talk with a friend!
Your friends know you better than anyone, so talk with them about your problem. They may have some ideas you hadn’t thought of. Even if they don’t have any new insights, they’ll be there for you!
Spend time with your friends and family!
Spending time with those who love you is the best antidote to bullying. Remember, your worth is not defined by what a bully says online, it’s defined by your actions, your character, and your relationships. Take a step back and celebrate your friends and family!