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Make the internet experience safe and secure for your kids. Learn everything you should know about cyberbullying

Being online has many benefits. However, like many things in life, it comes with risks that you need to protect against. If you experience cyberbullying, you may want to delete certain apps or stay offline for a while to give yourself time to recover. But getting off the Internet is not a long-term solution. You did nothing wrong, so why should you be disadvantaged? It may even send the bullies the wrong signal — encouraging their unacceptable behaviour.

We all want cyberbullying to stop, which is one of the reasons reporting cyberbullying is so important. But creating the Internet we want goes beyond calling out bullying. We need to be thoughtful about what we share or say that may hurt others. We need to be kind to one another online and in real life. We need to be thoughtful about what we share or say that may hurt others as the first line of defence against cyberbullying start from us and It’s up to all of us!

“Generations of children have now grown up in the internet age, and cyberspace has therefore become both a source of opportunities and an arena for the safeguarding of child rights and protection from new forms of risk. Children make up one-third of internet users globally.

let’s do all we can to make the internet an outlet for self- expression, creativity, education, and connections with each other, without threats of bullying and violations of privacy. On Safer Internet Day, UNICEF calls on children and young people, parents, teachers, policymakers, tech innovators, and businesses to come together to create
a safer, healthier digital world for our children,” said Cynthia McCaffrey, UNICEF India Representative.

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about online bullying and advice on ways to deal with it.

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is bullying with the use of digital technologies. It can take place on social media, messaging platforms, gaming platforms and mobile phones. It is repeated behaviour, aimed at scaring, angering or shaming those who are targeted. Examples include:

 Spreading lies about or posting embarrassing photos or videos of someone on social media
 Sending hurtful, abusive or threatening messages, images or videos via messaging platforms
 Impersonating someone and sending mean messages to others on their behalf or through fake accounts.
Face-to-face bullying and cyberbullying can often happen alongside each other. But cyberbullying leaves a digital footprint – a record that can prove useful and provide evidence to help stop the abuse.

Am I being bullied online? How do you tell the difference between a joke and bullying?

All friends joke around with each other, but sometimes it’s hard to tell if someone is just having fun or trying to hurt you, especially online. But if you feel hurt or think others are laughing at you instead of with you, then the joke has gone too far. If it continues even after you’ve asked the person to stop and you are still feeling upset about it, then this could be bullying. And when the bullying takes place online, it can result in unwanted attention from a wide range of people including strangers. Call it what you will – if you feel bad and it doesn’t stop, then it’s worth getting help. Stopping
cyberbullying is not just about calling out bullies, it’s also about recognizing that everyone deserves respect – online and in real life.

What are the effects of cyberbullying?

When online bullying happens it can feel as if there’s no escape. The effects can last a long time and affect a person in many ways:

 Mentally – feeling upset, embarrassed, stupid, even afraid or angry
 Emotionally – feeling ashamed or losing interest in the things you love
 Physically – loss of sleep, or experiencing symptoms like stomach aches and headaches

Cyberbullying can affect us in many ways. But these can be overcome and people can regain their confidence and health.

How can cyberbullying affect mental health?

Cyberbullying can make a person start to feel ashamed, nervous, anxious and insecure about what people say or think about. This can lead to withdrawing from friends and family. People can lose motivation to do the things that they usually enjoy doing and feel isolated from the people they love and trust. This can perpetuate negative feelings and thoughts which can adversely affect mental health and well-being.

 Skipping school is a common effect of cyberbullying and can affect the mental health of young people who turn to substances like alcohol and drugs or violent behaviour to deal with their psychological and physical pain.
 The effects of cyberbullying on mental health can vary depending on the medium through which it happens. For example, bullying via text messaging or
through pictures or videos on social media platforms has proven to be very harmful to adolescents.
 Talking to a friend, family member or school counsellor you trust can be a first step to getting help.

Are there any online anti-bullying tools for children or young people?

Each social platform offers different tools that allow users to restrict who can comment on or view their posts or who can connect automatically as a friend, and report cases of bullying. Many of them involve simple steps to block, mute or report cyberbullying.

Social media companies also provide educational tools and guidance for children, parents and teachers to learn about risks and ways to stay safe online.

However, the first line of defence against cyberbullying could be you. Think about where cyberbullying happens in your community and ways you can help – by raising your voice, calling out bullies, reaching out to trusted adults or creating awareness of the issue. Even a simple act of kindness can go a long way.

How to prevent personal information from being used for cyberbullying on social media?

Think twice before posting or sharing anything on digital platforms. Don’t give out personal details such as your address, telephone number or the name of your school. Learn about the privacy settings available on popular social media apps.

Here are some actions one can take on many of them:

 You can decide who can see your profile, send you direct messages or comment on your posts by adjusting your account privacy settings.
 You can report hurtful comments, messages, photos and videos and request they be removed.
 Besides ‘unfriending’, you can completely block people to stop them from seeing your profile or contacting you.
 You can also choose to have comments by certain people appear only to them without completely blocking them.
 You can delete posts on your profile or hide them from specific people.

On most of your favourite social media, people aren’t notified when you block, restrict or report them.

How to approach your parent If you are experiencing cyberbullying but are afraid to talk about it?

If you are experiencing cyberbullying, speaking to a trusted adult – someone you feel safe talking to – is one of the most important first steps you can take.
Talking to parents isn’t easy for everyone. But there are things you can do to help the conversation. Choose a time to talk when you know you have their full attention. Explain how serious the problem is for you. Remember, they might not be as familiar with technology as you are, so you might need to help them to understand what’s happening.
They might not have instant answers for you, but they are likely to want to help and together you can find a solution. Two heads are always better than one!

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