The feeling of anonymity the internet provides tends to evoke the worst kind of behavior in some people, turning them into online haters, naysayers, and quite often, cyberbullies.
If you or someone you know is the target of college cyberbullying, realize immediately that this behavior is unacceptable, and you have every right to protect yourself from online haters. Changing your social media habits can help neutralize some avenues that cyberbullies may use to victimize you, while gathering evidence of their hateful behavior will help you take action against them. Here is how to start.
Start Keeping Things Private
There’s no shortage of reasons to make all your social media profiles private. Doing so can keep your private life separate from your professional and college life.
If you’re being considered for an internship or a position that will lead you to your dream job, you won’t need to worry about someone in a position of power accidentally stumbling upon your slightly embarrassing vacation photos.
On the one hand, such photos might cost you the job. On the other, even if you are hired, you risk the topic of your photos spreading in the office which might impact the way your colleagues behave towards you.
Another advantage to keeping your social media profiles is that nothing you post will be seen by people you don’t allow to see it – including cyberbullies.
Cyberbullying is prevalent , so it is beneficial to create a wide net of privacy for your protection. You’re less likely to receive rude comments or offensive critiques if you haven’t given a malicious person something to criticize.
Pick Through Your Friends and Followers
Even after you’ve made your social media profiles private, you may not be out of the woods. Check your friends and followers for cyberbullies, people who have formed close relationships with cyberbullies, or people who have a history of interacting negatively from others. Remove these people from your lists, revoking their permission to know what’s going on in your life. You don’t have to share your journey with people who are only going to weigh you down with negativity.
Clean Up Your History
This generation was the first to grow up on the internet. Many of us fail to realize what a trail we’ve left behind. Regain access to former accounts and delete the ones you don’t use anymore. Go back a few years through your social media posts, and delete or privatize old posts – especially the ones containing photos. This is important for your protection and your privacy – you don’t need anyone to know about anything you might feel embarrassed about in retrospect, and if you scrub it from the internet, no one can use it against you.
Think Before You Post
Before you post something on social media, consider whether or not you’ll want it to be a part of your permanent record. It’s not unusual for college students to go out and enjoy a few drinks with their friends, but impaired judgement might lead you to oversharing or posting photos you may not otherwise post. You’re living your best life. You’re having fun. You shouldn’t ever be ashamed to enjoy yourself responsibly. Just don’t allow cyberbullies to use your fun moments as fodder to make you feel bad about yourself. Think before you post.
Speak to Relevant Authorities
It doesn’t matter if you’ve already enacted steps to promote your online safety – you still don’t deserve to be cyberbullied. It’s never your fault that someone chooses to lash out at you inappropriately. Don’t allow yourself to fall into a victim blaming mentality. You can’t always respond by pulling back – the individual or individuals responsible need to be held accountable for their actions.
Save screenshots, messages, and comments that may constitute cyberbullying. Show them to relevant authorities on campus. Many colleges have policies relating to cyber harassment of all sorts. The school may be able to take disciplinary action against the student responsible if their identity is known.
other valuable tips:
Create Awareness on Campus
It isn’t ordinarily polite to “other” people, but in some cases, it’s necessary to make certain people feel excluded. By starting an anti cyberbullying initiative on campus, you’re turning the tables against people with bad intentions. If cyberbullies can clearly see a unified front against their behavior, they’ll be more likely to respond to the stigma that comes with making hurtful comments online.
Creating an environment where students have taken an active stance against cyberbullying will also open up the floor to discuss the impacts of cyberbullying. If you had a tough experience, you can share it with others and find a sense of unity and healing together.
Cyberbullying can be hard to combat – especially since many cyberbullies use the anonymity afforded to them by the internet. By keeping your private life private, holding offenders accountable, and creating an environment that won’t stand for cyberbullying, you’re more likely to keep your campus safe.
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