Threats and blackmail
Repeatedly texting unpleasant messages/images
Monitoring or hacking into someone’s online activities or accounts
Impersonating a person and using their identity online
Posting or forwarding unpleasant comments or private information
Sharing videos of someone being bullied
Pretending to be friends to gain information
Refusing to acknowledge messages or using ‘ignore’ functions
Manipulating someone emotionally to do something: “If you were really my
friend, you’d… “
‘Sexting’ - sending sexually explicit messages or photos to cause distress
The difficulty most children and parents face with cyber bullying is that
it is more difficult to contain and control. Information can spread
rapidly, repeatedly and widely – whether it was intentionally hurtful in
the first place or not – and it can creep into a child’s personal space no
matter where they are. Those who bully can choose to remain anonymous and
they don’t necessarily need to be physically more powerful to bully
anymore. Anonymity can also mean that boundaries could be pushed even
further than if someone is physically in your face.
So how can you help, especially if you feel like children know more about
technology than you do?
Help children make themselves more cyberbully-proof by encouraging them
not to combine real names, ages and provocative words as their
username/email address. Sexybecs13@whatever.com may seem a fun idea to 13
year old Becs who is just getting into boys and having fun experimenting
with harmless flirting etc – but it gives away a surprising amount of
detail to anyone looking hard enough who might not be so harmless.
You might want to use a picture or image on a profile instead of a real
Keep passwords private and make them hard to guess by using random letters
and numbers instead of names, phone numbers and birthdays etc. This makes
it difficult for people to hack into email accounts.
The web is a very deceptive space. It can feel very private and intimate,
but it’s very public. You may need to discuss that the details they
display, who they talk to and what they talk about are far more open and
accessible than they might realise.
We insist that children tell us the truth about things and we drill them
that they are rude if they don’t answer questions or speak to people when
spoken to - but they need to know that the web is the one place where it’s
okay not to answer people, to block and delete people and not to give out
details like real names, personal information, phone numbers and
addresses. They also need to know that other people don’t always tell the
truth on their profiles and in conversations either.
If bullied, instant messaging services such as MSN have features that
allow you to block or delete people, but children may need encouragement
that it’s okay to block people.
On MySpace and Bebo, profiles can be set to ‘private’ so that only
approved people can see it.
On email accounts such as hotmail, you can block email addresses by
clicking on ‘options’, then ‘more options’. Click the heading ‘junk mail’
then click ‘safe and blocked senders’. Finally, click the ‘blocked
senders’ option and type the offending email address into the box and
click ‘add to the list’.
Be as interested and open to talking about online friends and what a child
does online as you would face-to-face friends and activities.
Children need to know that it’s better to tell you about something that’s
happened online – as soon as possible - even if they’ve joined in bullying
themselves or got themselves into an embarrassing situation.
Save messages if you need to take further action about them.