When you're experiencing cyberbullying, it can sometimes feel like you’re stranded somewhere no-one else can get to, facing something that no-one else understands, and with nowhere to turn for help. But you're never alone. Cyberbullying affects more people than you might think, and there are steps you can take to deal with it.
Strategy 1: Don’t respond immediately
The aim of a lot of cyberbullying is to annoy, upset or confuse the person who is being targeted, so that they react emotionally. If you’re being cyberbullied, keep in mind that the person who’s targeting you wants you to respond.
A good strategy for dealing with this is not to give them what they’re looking for. If someone says something to you online, tags you in a photo you don’t like, or just generally does something unkind, put down your phone for an hour or more. Take that time to give yourself some emotional distance, and think carefully before you respond.
Strategy 2: Follow up when you’re calmer
After an hour, you’ll probably feel a little calmer. Now you can go back online – maybe even with a friend or family member in the room with you – and get a proper feel for the situation before contacting the person who is cyberbullying you.
Using calm, neutral language, try to work out the situation with the person without letting them get to you. They might not even realise that you interpreted their actions as cyberbullying, and so a calm conversation is a good place to start.
Strategy 3: Take screenshots
Screenshots are the best way for you to report an instance of cyberbullying. After all, the person who’s cyberbullying you may delete their comment or photo when they realise that it might get them in trouble. Screenshots will ensure you always have a copy of what was said.
Strategy 4: Try to stop compulsively checking posts
When you’re in the thick of a cyberbullying attack, it can feel like the person who is cyberbullying you is literally in the room with you, shouting things in your ear and demanding your attention.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can always limit your social media time to a few hours a day. That way, the bullying doesn’t feel constant, and you can take a break from the online world to look after yourself.
My self-care at the time was to take a bit of a break from social networking … and to ensure that I spent a lot of quality time with family and friends. - Ashleigh, 23
You should never have to feel like you can’t go online, but you can make sure you don’t spend all day online dealing with bullying.
Strategy 5: Report and block
Most social media sites want to help you feel safe online. They don’t want you to experience cyberbullying, either, so they have a lot of built-in tools to keep you safe. Just as importantly, they’re always looking to introduce new technology to help you out.
If you’ve exhausted the reporting and blocking options within your social media platform and things are still really bad, you need to make a report to The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner by filling out this form. Before you make a complaint, you need to:
- have copies of the cyberbullying material ready to upload (screenshots or photos)
- report the material to the social media service (if possible) at least 48 hours before filling out the form
- gather as much information as possible about where the material is located
- allow 15-20 minutes to complete the form.
What can I do now?
- Hit up the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner.
- Talk to friends, family or your school counsellor about what’s been going on.
- Find something else you can do for those times that you don’t want to be online.