Phones keep us entertained and make life easier but, social media and the internet can play host to cyberbullies. Here's some tips on how to stay safe online.

Phones are good – they entertain us, they make life easier, and they keep us connected with friends and family. There’s no down side, right?

That’s almost true.

The internet and social media attract trolls and online bullies. Nobody likes them. We’ve seen them on social media and worryingly, lots of us (children and adults alike) have experienced cyberbullying first hand. Ditch the Label is one of the UK’s largest anti-bullying charities. In their annual bullying 2019 survey, 24% of the participants (aged between 12 and 25) are worried about being bullied online.  Of those participants who have been bullied, 74% have experienced cyber bullying.

Now, those aren’t the types of stats that we like to read here at Three. We’d like to help with some advice on how you, your family or friends can stay safer online.

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying can take several forms. Examples include leaving nasty or embarrassing comments on someone’s profile to trolling, harassment or spreading rumours. Often this is through social media, emails, text, websites or any other online platforms.

Staying safe online

Phones are good and you should be free to enjoy them without having to worry about cyberbullies and trolls. Here are our top tips.

Make your profile private

To control who sees what on your profile, it’s easy to change your privacy settings. You can do this on all social media platforms. Plus, you’re the only person who can view your preferences so, you don’t need to worry about anyone questioning them.

Think before you post

Even with updated security/privacy settings, the stuff you post online is never really private. So, if it’s something you’d rather stayed completely under wraps, it’s probably best not to post it online.

The same goes for sending anything over private message in WhatsApp and Snapchat. If you’re sending something you’d hate for the whole world to see, then maybe think twice about sending it. Can you be sure that your message/snap won’t get passed on?

Keeping children safe online

Generation Z kids are tech saavy and growing up with smartphones and tablets readily on hand. Being able to use technology from an early age can arm children with important life skills. But, using the internet and social media can leave them vulnerable to inappropriate content and potentially online bullies.

Phones can help you manage the content that your children have access to. Check out our article on How to use parental controls on your phone for more info.

Internet Matters

The online world  is a fast-paced one but there’s lots of info available for you to keep up to date. Check out our Privacy and safety hub as a first step. We’ve collaborated with other networks and tech companies as partners of Internet Matters Their website gives a range of supportive and trusted advice on online safety.

What to do if you’re being bullied online.

Cyberbullying can affect both children and adults and it’s distressing and frightening to experience. If you’re being bullied online by someone from school, work or even by someone you don’t know, there are things you can do.

Don’t keep it a secret

The most important thing you can do is tell somebody that you trust. It can be a parent, family member, teacher, family friend or co-worker.

If you’d rather not talk to someone you know then give the National Bullying Helpline  a call. They can offer help and advice with bullying at school, work and online. You can call between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday on 0845 22 55 787

Keep a record

If you’ve been getting nasty messages, emails, comments or even pictures/videos make sure you take screen shots of them.  That way you’ve got proof of what’s happened, even if they get deleted.

Report it

You can report bullying content through the service provider (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc…). This is done anonymously so, the person that posted the message/comment won’t be told who has reported it.

This also works if you see someone online being bullied. Make a stand against it and report what happened.

Don’t respond

Most online bullies are trying to get a reaction. As tempting as it may be to respond, be the bigger person and ignore them. Then move on to the next step.

Block out the haters – literally.

If you decide that you don’t want someone to be able to access your profile/page or even send you messages, you can block them. All social media platforms let you do this, as well as messaging apps like WhatsApp. Remember to block specific numbers from calling or texting you too. When you do this, the person isn’t notified. Blocking isn’t permanent either so you can unblock them again, if you want to.

Not sure how to block someone on social media? You can find everything you need to know in our how to article.

 

These tips can help you to stay safe online and to deal with cyberbullies. So you’re free to enjoy using your phone and the internet as they were intended. Because phones are good, after all.