It amuses me to recall but I am not that old but when I went through high school we only just had the internet and we didn’t have social media. Somewhat I am grateful for as now I am in my 30’s it appears my age is not immune to the effects of cyberbullying in social media. You see it would be another ten years before Facebook was launched and my year 12 computer studies were limited to Microsoft Word and Excel training. I always loved to write and had numerous international pen pals over the years and my first emails carried a similar writing to online pen pals to the Scouts in the USA. As my life has grown and relationships expanded and now I am a mother, I have become fully aware of the impact of cyberbullying on the internet through constant media stories. As yet I still have ten more years before my girls become teenagers but I truly fear what the social media landscape will look like when they start opening their own online accounts.
Bullying when I was a kid was the feeling of exclusion of activities from other kids. Not always getting the in-joke and not cool enough to be invited to parties. Some parts of the bullying has actually been a personal driver for success, improving my self-esteem and being certain of the friends I hang with actually bring me up than let me down but then again I feel fortunate that I don’t have a Facebook profile that started when I was 16.
So what the hell am I talking about? What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is the use of technology to bully a person or group. Bullying is repeated behaviour by an individual or group with the intent to harm another person or group.
Because children and young people are often online it can be hard for them to escape cyberbullying. Nasty messages, videos and gossip can spread fast online and are hard to delete. Sometimes the attackers can be anonymous and hard to stop. These factors make it harder for adults to see and harder to manage.
A resource for parents on Bullying online inks and practical tips to help parents manage online risks with teens be found here: – See more at: http://www.cybersmart.gov.au/Parents/Cyber%20issues/Cyberbullying.aspx#sthash.sgo1we8y.dpuf
Cyberbullying in the Internet Marketing Industry
Since working online now for over a year building skills in internet marketing, social media marketing is one tool a lot of leaders use to generate online traffic and build a reputation. And recently it has been my great dismay reading so many Internet Marketing leaders promoting popularity by their daily rants against people new to the industry. Daily rants that include the name of a person to ridicule is one such tactic that is clearly an act of cyberbullying and one I too was a victim recently after emailing a particular profiled Internet Marketer a question about a marketing tactic where my name was published and ridiculed on her wall. After a succession of rebuttal comments about this disgusting behaviour before the post was deleted and an apology sent, still has me shaken up. Internet Marketing is a competitive industry and also can be bloody nasty and ego’s rampant. So my recommendation to you is to choose your leaders well for their ethics and values and not just because they earn the most dollars.
Cyberbullying and Parenting
I also see Cyberbullying in all forms with parents and on online mother’s forums. Other mums ridiculing, intimidating or excluding you on how you parent your child. Another incident only just this week had me reeling as well. A person I had known for a very long time who is also a Primary School teacher and mother herself took a photo of someone else’s child without their mother’s permission and posted it on her page to joke about her size in comparison to her own child. Apparently it was seen as ok if you put a sticker on the child’s face and any comment to the contrary was responded with a rant of how “sensitive people are and it’s JUST a JOKE?” Unsurprisingly I was “unfriended” for my reply that yes it did disturb me.
What you can do to respond to Cyberbullying
No I am not over reacting. Why is it people think behind the computer they can ridicule people whereas they may consider twice if it was to your face? When I see and experience stories like these I think its time to reconsider the newsfeed that scans down my eyes on a daily basis. Essentially your social media newsfeed is your account and a reflection of the online friends you have made and the communities and pages you have liked. To take back control of any content that disturbs you is to feel empowered to block, delete, unlike and remove it from your account.
Some recommendations say to ignore the person if you are a victim of an attack or something that is posted about someone else that does not feel right and I am in two minds of this. One I recommend you not to reply in haste but leave it awhile before responding. Secondly I also think if it disturbs you enough to respond than its OK too as long as you target the behavior as incorrect and not the person which is a common strategy for providing negative feedback.
Last thoughts. If you see cyberbullying online, take the courage to speak out. You are not silly or insensitive as there are other people who may also feel the same but are too afraid to speak up. Be smart and take control and recognize what cyberbullying is and take action against cyberbullying.
I would love to hear your comments below.