Cyber bullying: how to stay safe online

Cyber Bullying

As the Internet has become more accessible to young people, it’s become increasingly important to stay safe online. Cyber bullying can have devastating effects on not only the victim, but their family too. At Tesco Mobile, we take cyber bullying seriously and want you to know exactly what you can do if you or your child is being cyber bullied.

What is cyber bullying?

Cyber bullying is any type of bullying that takes place over a mobile phone or on the Internet. This bullying can take many forms, ranging from a stolen identity to abusive phone calls, threats, or even blackmail. Cyber bullying can cause anxiety, stress and worry, so it is important to look out for these signs in your loved one or to take steps to combat the problem if you are the victim.

What to do if you are being cyber bullied

The first thing to do if you are the victim of cyber bullying is to take a deep breath, try to remain calm and relax. The aim of bullying is usually an attempt to cause distress, so don’t let them win.

The second step is to talk to somebody. Friends, parents and teachers will offer understanding and sympathy, and it is always better to talk about bullying than to bottle it up.

If you don’t wish to talk to a friend or family member, there are a number of helplines run by organisations and charities – such as ChildLine, the National Bullying Helpline, and the NSPCC – that you can call anytime.

Cyber bullying through mobile phone

Cyber bullying through a mobile phone

The safest way to avoid cyber bullying through a mobile phone is to avoid giving out your mobile number to anyone that you do not trust. However, no matter how safe you are, there are cases where a determined bully may find a way to target you.

The important thing to do here is not to panic, if you are the victim of cyber bullying or know somebody who is, there are a number of steps that can be taken:

> Tell somebody: whether it be a parent, teacher, or charity organisation, cyber bullying is always easier to combat when you talk about it.

> Inform your school, and keep a record of texts and phone calls to show to them.

> Talk to your mobile service provider, who will usually provide help in dealing with threatening or malicious calls and texts. If you are a Tesco Mobile customer, we recommend you read more about fighting nuisance calls and texts.

> In extreme cases, this form of cyber bullying can amount to harassment, which is an offence under the Harassment Act 1997. If you are being consistently harassed, keep a note of abusive messages and talk to your parents about the next course of action, which could involve contacting the police.

Online troll

Cyber bullying on Facebook, Twitter and other social media

Remaining safe and keeping information private on social media can be difficult, but by setting up strict privacy settings and only allowing people you know to make contact, you can usually stop a cyber bully from reaching you.

If a bully does reach you however, we understand that this can be a hugely distressing ordeal. Once again, it is important to remain calm and to talk to somebody about the problem. Taking the following steps may also be useful:

> Social networking sites such as Facebook are entirely on your side, and will try to help you in combating cyber bullying. Use the ‘block’ function on these sites to try to stop a bully from contacting you, optimise your privacy settings, and always report a cyber bully so that the website can take action to remove their profile.

> If you believe the cyber bully is linked to school, inform a teacher so that they can work with you to resolve the problem. Teachers are trained to understand their students’ problems, so don’t be afraid to talk to them about bullying or any other issue.

> As with bullying via a mobile phone, consistent harassment may constitute a criminal offence under the Harassment Act 1997. Furthermore, if a cyber bully attempts to blackmail you then this is also a serious crime. If you are the victim of either of these acts, or another that you believe may be illegal, do not hesitate to contact the police.