Stay safe online 

February 9, 2021

Stay safe online cyberbullying

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

That’s almost true.

The internet and social media attract trolls and online bullies. Nobody likes them. We’ve all seen them 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 12-25 – said they were worried about being bullied online. And of the participants who said they’d been bullied, 74% of them experienced cyber bullying.

Now, those aren’t the types of stats that we like to read here at Three. And with today being National Safer Internet day, we’ve got some tips on how to stay safe 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 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.

Need a helping hand when it comes to staying in control while your kids are using their devices online? Our Discovery team has just the thing.

Join them on YouTube on 9 February between 4pm-5pm, where they’ll be sharing tips on how to keep your children safe online. It’s an interactive session, so the team will be able to answer any of your questions on internet safety. And they’ll also show you how to use the Google Family Link app, screen time and parental controls on iOS and Android.

Internet Matters

The online world is a fast-paced one and it can be hard to keep up. But don’t worry, there’s loads of information available to help you out. Our Privacy and safety hub’s a great place to start.

We’ve also got together with other networks and tech companies as partners of Internet Matters. Head to their website for 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 – 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 some 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.

Don’t want to 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 screenshots of them.  That way you’ve got proof of what’s happened, even if the messages get deleted.

Report it

You can report bullying content through the service provider – like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. This is done anonymously so, the bully won’t be told who’s reported them.

This also works if you see someone being bullied online. Don’t be a bystander. Make a stand against it and report it.

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

Don’t want someone to be able to access your profile, page or even to be able to send you messages? Then it’s easy to block them. All social media platforms let you do it, as well as messaging apps like WhatsApp. And remember, you can block specific numbers from calling or texting you, too.

And when you block someone, the person isn’t notified – so you don’t have to worry about any confrontation or awkward conversations. 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.