The internet can be a fantastic tool for building knowledge, expressing your passions, and connecting us to one another. However, malicious individuals can also use the internet to harm and harass others.

Cyberbullying is defined as willful and repeated harm inflicted through computers, cell phones and other electronic devices. Cyberbullying can happen on many platforms, whether it’s text messages, emails, or comments and messages on social media posts. Online bullies can be crueller when they’re able to “hide behind a keyboard” and conceal their identity. 

The effects can be devastating for victims. The bullying can feel relentless, occurring at all hours, and public, with their loved ones potentially witnessing the ridicule. Cyberbullying is more common than you think and can happen at any age. Victims often suffer long-term damage, including emotional distress, depression and decreased self-esteem.

How can you avoid cyberbullying?

Anyone can be a victim, but here are some steps you can take to reduce the chances:

  • Don’t accept friend requests from strangers. Stick to being online friends with only people you know.
  • Don’t share personal information such as your name, address, school, or workplace with anyone you don’t know.
  • Use the privacy settings on your social media account.
  • Don’t give out your cell phone number to strangers. 
  • If a person you meet online asks to meet you in person, tell a family member or friend. 
  • Change your passwords regularly. 

So, what can you do if you or someone you know is being bullied? 

  • The first step is to tell someone. Please do not keep it to yourself. 
  • Do not engage with ‘trolls’ online. It can sometimes make their behaviour worse. 
  • On social media, use the ‘block’ feature to prevent this person from contacting you again. 
  • Understand that you/they do not deserve to be bullied.

Choose kindness

Raising awareness is the first step in putting an end to bullying. We can all do our part together by choosing kindness, avoiding argument and being nicer to others online. And if you see someone being harassed, stand up, speak up and give them your support.

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