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Social Media Bullying: How Do You Deal With It?

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Social media bullying has made the news often recently. Online sites are supposed to be a fun environment, a place to chat with friends, make new ones, and generally share ideas and thoughts in an open and supportive community. So far so ideal, but behind the positive facade lurks a small but powerful contingent, a dedicated band of disrupters who bring a dark side to the online world – the social media bullies.

Where does social media bullying take place?

Typically prowling sites that are most frequented by young people, the social media bullies are often found lurking on sites like MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Twitter, Last.fm, Ask.fm, FriendFeed and YouTube. The majority of bullies are young people themselves, although not exclusively.

The social media sites encourage users to create a personal profile on which they can then share ideas, videos and photos, which are then open to comments from other users. The bullies can post abusive messages on your profile, make mean comments about your photos, or make fun of someone by posting their own content that mocks a person and encouraging it to be shared widely.

Some also go to the lengths of creating a fake profile in another person’s name, and flooding it with content that is damaging and offensive. The effects of any of this on a vulnerable individual can be emotionally and psychologically devastating.

teenage girl with laptopThe social media bully could be someone you already know

Bullying from a school “friend” can transfer from online into the playground and classroom, and the level of intimidation experienced by some victims can be suffocating and incredibly frightening. A mobile phone or a computer is a very personal thing, and social media bullying strikes at the very heart of a person’s private world.

Little is said about this new breed of bully until their actions lead to tragedy, and there has been an alarming rise in episodes where the behaviour of these online troublemakers has lead to a young person taking their life. Suicide. The ultimate release from a life that has become intolerable. As the online world scrabbles to make sense of such events, the bullies sit laughing into their laptops from anywhere in the world, virtually untouchable. This surely has to change soon.

Whilst the webmasters work out how they can technically and legally police a global online environment, the rest of us are left to cope for the time being. Bullies have their weaknesses like everyone, and the cyber version of these mean-minded individuals are no exception.

There are ways to manage them to an extent, and education, of both the bullies and those on the receiving end, is a good place to start. Talking to your children about social media bullying and the effects it can have may help prevent them from perpetrating it themselves, and encourage them to be open with you if they are on the receiving end. Social media sites

Other tactics include:

• Careful management of online privacy settings to block offenders and assert control over who sees your posts

• Being choosy about who you grant access to your posts

• Ignoring the abuse – retaliation lets the bully know they are under your skin, and this only encourages further abuse

• Reporting the bully to moderators and site providers, along with evidence of the abuse via saved screen-shots, saved messages, and a log of any abuse that you have suffered

 

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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