Cyberbullying: Playing safe online
Updated: May 20
Welcome to our Youth Talk Blog, a section dedicated to youth experience with mental health and wellbeing, with weekly blog posts from diverse young people’s perspectives. This is a positive, fun and resourceful space, showcasing young people thriving and connecting with healthful activities, resources and support. This post has been written by our Community Education intern, Anne, a 21-year-old psychology student.
What is the first thing you look at when you wake up in the morning? What is the last thing you do at night before you go to bed? For many people, the answer to this question is an electronic device. This includes a computer, cell phone, or even a television. We live in a high-tech world, where people regularly rely on technology, often to the point where we give technology the ability to consume our lives more than we may realise. Technology has become a method of communication, a mode of entertainment, and has even found uses in education. So much of our lives has been transferred to the virtual world that even harassment has become virtual in the form of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that occurs on online platforms. It has grown more common as electronics have been more widely and commonly used and can have a negative effect on the victim’s wellbeing just as any form of bullying. Since the harassment takes place virtually, it is easier for the bully to hide behind a screen, eliminating having to witness the victims’ physical reactions. This is found to create a more hostile and harsher platform for bullying.
Vivienne’s Story with Cyberbullying:
Vivienne, a 21-year-old university student shared her experiences with cyberbullying. Within an emotional conversation, she stated “cyberbullying affected me in ways I didn’t even know I could feel. I was getting harassed on a public platform for anyone to view repeatedly and I felt like I couldn’t escape it without giving up social media completely, it seemed unfair.” Vivienne shared that the bullying came at all hours of the day and night making every moment she accessed her electronic device frightening and stressful. Not only did the ongoing harassment affected her stress level, but it started impacting her sleep, grades, and motivation to partake in activities or engagements she had previously enjoyed. It wasn’t until she explored solutions that she began to feel a sense of relief.
Here are a few tips to protect yourself and the people you care about:
Turn to a support system: One way to cope with the stress of online bullying (or any bullying really) can be to confide in those you trust. Gaining advice, navigation, and acknowledgement from parents and friends can be a strong outlet.
Do not engage: Something that I have learned throughout my experiences is that bullies feed off of a reaction. If you pay little to no attention to what they are doing, this could show them that it is not getting to you even if it may be. If they do not get a rise from you then they won't have anything to feed off of and might stop.
Report it: most online platforms allow you to report content, bloc and unfriend people. Make sure you keep evidence (screenshots, photos, recorded messages) .You can get help at Netsafe too. If it is something more serious (e.g., physical threats), report it to the police via call or text to 111 (if it’s an emergency) or call 105 for non-emergencies.
Support those around you: It is important to empathise with people who are being bullied and approach them to ask about the support they may need to cope with it.