Cyberbullying and Internet Safety
Towards a safer internet for all
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is a type of bullying that occurs on social media, emails, games and other online platforms. Like different types of bullying, it’s a repetitive behavior that aims to frighten, provoke or discredit the target, for example:
- Posting lies or embarrassing pictures of a person on social media
- Send harmful messages or threats
- Impersonating someone and sending messages or posting content on his/her behalf
Cyber and face-to-face bullying usually occur at the same time, but cyberbullying leaves a fingerprint and evidence (such as text or voice messages) providing clues to help stop it later.
Teenagers and Youth
The internet is full of beautiful and useful things, but it can become a dangerous place if we don't know how to use it properly and safely!
Are you facing a problem or threat online?
Don’t stay alone
Talk to your family and ask for their help. If you are not comfortable talking to them, talk to a teacher, a friend you trust, or a specialist from the 16000 child's free helpline.
Don’t go further
You may be under threat such as "Send me information about your family or I will beat you" or "Send me more pictures or I will tell your family", do not respond to these messages so that no more problems occur.
Watch the stories of Menna, Mohammed and Hussein with cyberbullying
Parents and Teachers
Your children will face different challenges every day, but the only constant should be your presence and your willingness to listen and help them with unconditional love!
What are the warning signs that my child is being cyberbullied?
- Drastic change in the use of devices (sudden increase or decrease).
- Begins to avoid several social situations.
- Displays extreme sadness, loss of interest and isolation of people and activities.
- Starts to become secretive by hiding screens when others are near.
- Sudden deactivation of social media accounts or the creation of new ones.
My son's classmates are cyberbullying him because of a video he posted on a social networking website, what should I do?
- Encourage him not to respond, as this will increase the attention and power that the bullies seek.
- Take screenshots of abusive comments to communicate with the parents of these children and the school or team management.
- Report all offensive comments (Learn how to do so here).
- If the child has severe psychiatric symptoms, immediately refer to a psychiatrist and call the child's helpline
Why to children do cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is often driven by a bully's need to entertain or draw attention due to boredom and having a large spare time with little or no parental supervision. Also, the motivation is feeling angry, frustrated, or seeking revenge because of jealousy or past problems. As the motivations differ, solutions and suggestions for responses also differ for each case.
Someone is blackmailing my daughter with a private photo of hers, what should I do?
- Listen quietly to your daughter’s story. Avoid losing your temper or blaming her so she will feel safe to share more details.
- If there are other parties involved (such as your daughter's friend), contact her and listen to the story from her side.
- Postpone your comments on your daughter's behavior that led to this problem (such as trusting the wrong person), prioritize finding a solution and helping her as a priority.
- If the image is posted on social media, report it immediately (Learn how to do so here)
- If the image is being used to threaten the child, advise her not to ever respond to the threats and call the child's helpline 16000.
- Keep screenshots of threatening messages as evidence as a precaution.
Listen to this mother’s advice on keeping children safe online
Watch how this teacher handled a case of cyberbullying
Golden rules for staying safe online
Do not fall for tricks
Not everything on the internet is real. Differentiating between what is real and what is not is is one of the most important lessons of internet safety that we learn through experience, research and the the help of those who are more experienced than us.
Beware of scams
- It is important not to trust any offers that appear unrealistic and too good to be true, such as "winning a grand prize" or "getting a gift for free".
- There are popular frauds and scams, for example: receiving a message from an entity that claims to be credible requesting personal information or bank account details. Always remember to check the authenticity of the websites and that they are not false copies trying to trick you.
Learn how to make a strong password
- Make it memorable yet avoid using personal information like names or birthdays.
- Use a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers.
- You can r3pl@ce le++ers wit# sYmb0ls & n^mb3rs 1ike Thi$.
- Do not use the same password on multiple sites. Create a few different variations of the same password for different accounts.
- News / information / stories (whether good or bad) quickly go viral online. Therefore, you must ensure that the content (such as photos, news, and videos) is authentic and appropriate before posting.
- It’s Important to distinguish between what can be shared with relatives and friends and what can be shared with strangers. Learn how to share your photos and videos with just the people you want on Facebook here and Instagram here.
- Communicate with others online just as you do face-to-face, so do not comment or say words that may be inappropriate if said in real life.
- Do not share any personal information about your family and friends with those they do not know. Do not take photos or videos of others and share them without their permission.
- Stop all forms of cyberbullying, starting by not to forward messages or share content that is offensive to anyone.
- When reading comments on a controversial topic, treat other opinions with respect. At the same time, report comments that contain bad language, bully or threat others.
- Report personal pages or accounts that defame or offend people (learn how to do so here).
- Support anyone who is being bullied online by helping them report the bullies or recover their hacked account.
How to report on digital platforms?
Remember that the most important person who can stop cyberbullying is the one who knows the right tools to use! Here are the reporting and security pages on the most common social networks:
Useful, and fun, resources
This guide, prepared by UNICEF, provides a summary of the most important things parents and teachers should know and teach children about cyberbullying and how to stop it.
This hub provides support for parents, teachers and teenagers on how to deal with various bullying cases.
This guide explains to parents how to keep their children's Instagram photos safe and private.
Children can play their way to being safe online with Interland, an online adventure developed by Google that puts the key lessons of digital safety into hands-on practice with four challenging games.
Educators who are interested in the topic of internet safety can download this curriculum developed by Google which is certified by the "International Society for Technology in Education".