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 keep us entertained, they make life that little bit easier, and they keep us connected with friends and family. There’s no down side, right?

That’s almost true.

With the internet and social media come trolls and online bullies. Nobody likes them. We’ve all seen them on social media and worryingly, lots of us (children and adults alike) have experienced cyberbullying first hand. In fact, according to Ditch the Label’s annual bullying survey carried out in 2017, 17% of the participants (aged between 12 and 25) said they’d experienced cyberbullying and 23% said they felt that cyberbullying was just a part of growing up.

Now, those aren’t the types of stats that we like to read here at Three. Phones, internet and social media were all created to help us stay connected with family and friends and to make our lives a little easier; not as a tool for bullies.

And with Safer Internet Day coming up on 5 February, there’s no better time to talk about cyberbullying and how to stay safe online.

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying can be anything from leaving nasty or embarrassing comments on someone’s profile to trolling, harassment or spreading rumours using 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’s our top tips on staying safe online.

Make your profile private

You can control who sees what on your profile by changing your privacy settings. This can be done on all social media platforms and you’re the only person that 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, 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 stuff over private message, WhatsApp and Snapchat. If you’re sending something you’d hate for the whole world to see, then maybe think twice about sending it. No matter how trustworthy the person you’re sending it to may be, you can never be sure that your message/snap won’t get passed on.

Keeping children safe online

Generation Z are growing up with smartphones and tablets readily on hand and most are already more tech-savvy than a lot of us. Being able to use technology from an early age can arm children with skills that’ll help them later in life but, using the internet and social media can leave them vulnerable to inappropriate content and potentially online bullies.

Phones are good as you have the option to 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 tech and online world  is a fast-paced one. If you’re worried about not being able to keep up to date with the latest info on online safety, we’ve collaborated with other networks and tech companies as partners of Internet Matters: a clear, simple source of information and trusted advice on online safety.

What to do if you’re being bullied online.

Cyberbullying can affect both children and adults and is a horrible thing to experience. If you’re being bullied online by someone from school, work or even by someone you don’t know, there are steps that you can take.

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’re there to offer help and advice with bullying at school, work and online. They’re available from 9am to 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 and keep them safe – that way you’ve got a record of what’s happened, even if they get deleted.

Report it

You can report stuff like this 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. Don’t be a bystander, report it.

Don’t respond

Most online bullies do what they do 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. This can be done on all social media platforms, messaging apps like WhatsApp and you can 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, leaving you to spend more time enjoying your phone and the internet as they were intended. Because phones are good, after all.