Cyberbullying is any form of harassment that occurs online. As long as the other person feels offended, it can be referred to as bullying.
It often includes posting or sending offensive or hurtful comments and/or videos, issuing threats of harm or encouraging someone to hurt themselves, spreading rumours, or impersonating another person to cause them harm or embarrassment.
According to research by The African Journal of Information Systems, the highest form of victimization was through the act of deception, in which 75.8% of the respondents indicated someone had lied to them electronically. On the other hand, the highest form of perpetration of cyberbullying was through malice, in which 49.7% of the respondents reported sending a rude message to someone electronically.
So how do you deal with cyberbullying?
Do not reply immediately
Replying immediately will only make the situation worse as you might end up engaging in an online war with the offender. It is advisable to go offline for a while then come back when you are relaxed. This will not only give you time to evaluate the situation but also give you a clear head to reply the right way.
Do not take the abuses, insults or comments personally
Comments made by cyberbullies have nothing to do with you and your personality. Therefore, do not take them personally. Do not let those statements change you or make you doubt your beliefs or ways of life. Instead, just brush them off.
Ignore offensive comments
When you’re in the middle of a cyberbullying attack, it may feel like the person who is cyberbullying you is literally in the room with you, shouting things in your ear and demanding your attention.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can limit the time you spend on social media to a few hours a day, or whatever you feel is right with you. This way, the bullying won’t feel recurrent, you should take a break from social media to take care of your mental and emotional health.
Keep yourself busy
Engaging your mind in other activities will offer the best distraction for you which works perfectly fine in avoiding cyberbullying. Taking part in a sport or your favourite hobby can help you overcome this.
Keep relevant evidence for investigations
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 realize that it might get them in trouble. Screenshots will ensure you always have a copy of what was said.
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. Applications such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have quick access features that help you report abusive comments. Worry about your mental health and consider blocking people who attempt to bully you.
Talk about it
Sometimes we tend to keep quiet about cyberbullying as it develops and that should not be the case. When you notice that someone is frequently harassing you, talk to someone else about it. This will help you get a second opinion about how to deal with the issue. It will also prevent you from making irrational decisions.
Always remember that happy and secure people do not bully others. People who bully others are going through a difficult time themselves and will often need a lot of help and support. That doesn’t mean what they are doing is right but it gives you some assurance that it is not your fault.
Follow up when you’re calmer
After you’ve taken a break from social media for a while, and you hopefully feel calmer, you can now respond to whatever was said, that is if you feel up to it, maybe even with a friend or family member in the room with you. The idea at this stage is to get a proper feel of 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 realize that you interpreted their actions as cyberbullying, so a calm conversation is a good place to start.