Peer pressure is a driving force when we are young. Although we may not be the ones who start rumors, we may help them along by sharing in on gossip or forwarding an insulting email. Cyber bullying is completely avoidable. If you want cyber bullying to stop, you have to refuse to pass along cyber bullying messages. You also need to encourage your friends to do the same. Make sure that you do not have online contact with those who would start or support cyber bullying messages. Let a trusted adult know of any instances of cyber bullying so that they can do all that they can to prevent it from continuing to happen.
Also keep in mind that the internet is accessible to millions and millions of people in all parts of the world. Someone who may not even know who you are could want to hurt you. Do not give them that opportunity. Make sure that you never post or share your personal information online. This includes your full name, address, telephone number, school name, parents’ names, credit card number, social security number, etc. Also make sure that you are not compromising your friends by posting information that could make them vulnerable to predators or cyber bullies. Internet passwords are meant to stay confidential for a reason. Do not give someone else the opportunity to access your personal information and make changes. Your parents should be the only other people who know your passwords. Never talk to anyone online that you have never met in person. If you really want to be safe, don’t talk or chat online with anyone besides your closest friends. One rule of thumb is that if you do not know the person’s last name, you should not be exchanging messages with them.
Talk to your parents about what you do online. Of course you are entitled to some privacy, but completely blocking your parents out of what you do online is dangerous. They may be able to see a potentially harmful situation better than you can. Your parents are not looking to pry into your personal life. They are trying to protect you from the bad things of the world, like people who hurt children that they meet online and cyber bullies who can completely destroy a person’s sense of self worth. Let those who care about you protect you. Trust that they have your best interests at heart.
Become an activist for making a change. Talk to your school administrators about developing rules against cyber bullying. Let other kids know about what they can do to protect themselves from becoming a victim. A cyber bully is able to do the most damage when he has more contacts that he can use to forward messages through. Make sure that you are not an accomplice to a bully. Even though cyber bullies are not always seen, their effects are real. If you are ever tempted to say something cruel and plan to hide behind the anonymity that the Internet provides, remember that if you wouldn’t say something in person, you should not say it online. Children ought to be mature enough to know that starting such rumors is irresponsible, hurtful, and cowardly. There is nothing to be gained by insulting another person. Disputes ought to be handled face to face with effective communication and respect for the other person’s feelings. Many bullies begin acting out because someone else has harmed them. Do not perpetuate the wrongs that were done to you by bringing others down to share in your misery. Rise above the hurtful feelings and make something more of yourself.