Adult Cyberbullying & Healthy Internet Habits

Many of us are spending more time on the internet now. However, not every experience online is a good one! This week’s topic is cyberbullying (harmful interactions over the internet).

In our very first week of this livestream we talked about limiting internet use and I’ve mentioned limiting news consumption a number of times over the past few weeks. Since I know that a lot of us are using the internet and social media more than ever, I thought another important internet topic to bring up is cyberbullying. I talk about cyberbullying in my school presentations often, but adults can experience cyberbullying as well. With emotions running high, false information being spread, etc. I see angry internet interactions happening quite often now. The main message for young cyberbullying victims is to report it, and talk to a trusted adult about it. But what do you do when you ARE an adult, and you’re going through the same thing? I found a couple of articles with advice about this:

From Source 1:

Lead by example

Sue Scheff in an article on Psychology Today says: “Many of us have been targets of cyberbullying, or maybe we have found ourselves posting a snarky comment that we have regretted” (Source 1). As I tell youth in my internet safety presentations, it’s a lot easier to say mean things to someone online than it is in person. When we’re behind a screen, potentially anonymous, we can find ourselves texting or typing out anger, frustration, and even hate quite easily. To quote Scheff again, “the most disturbing trend among all this hateful online behavior is that it's usually the grown-ups that are throwing the cyber-trash. The same people that should be responsible, respectful and know to lead with kindness” (Source 1).

Think before you post! In a study done with teens, where they were given one chance to rethink sending a cyberbullying message, 96% of teens chose NOT to send the message. This shows the power that taking a moment can have on our actions. Read over your message, step away for 5-10 minutes, or even take the night to sleep on it. It’s more than likely that you will choose not to send it, which helps both you and the intended recipient. “Although we can't control how others behave online, we can take steps to improve our own experiences and behavior and how we response to the negativity” (Source 1).

Be an upstander. If you receive a mean message, witness a hurtful comment or see someone struggling with digital harassment—do something.

· Report and flag the abusive content to the social platform.

· Never forward, engage or 'like' malicious content.

· Reach out to someone hurting online. (Private message, text, email. Any form of communication so they know they're not alone).

Limit what you share online. Not everything we do offline needs to be documented on our social networks.