Cy­ber bul­ly­ing and how to stop it


Mid Louth Independent - - ANALYSIS -

ATALK for par­ents on cy­ber bul­ly­ing and the im­por­tance of mon­i­tor­ing your child’s in­ter­net us­age took place in The Boomerang Cafe re­cently.

Pre­sented by Grainne Fa­gan, the talk looked at ev­ery­thing from bul­ly­ing and the dan­gers of on­line peer pres­sure to groom­ing and the im­por­tance of hav­ing the right set­tings in place on ev­ery­thing from Snapchat to Xbox Live.

She spoke about how cy­ber bul­ly­ing can have a huge ef­fect on young peo­ple and teenager’s men­tal health as un­like school­yard bul­ly­ing their is no es­cape from the on­line at­tacks.

‘Cy­ber bul­ly­ing is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year be­cause they can get to you at any time,’ she said. ‘There is no safe space and it is hard to es­cape.’

Grainne ex­plained how some chil­dren might think they are just hav­ing fun and not re­alise they are bul­ly­ing. ‘They think they’re just slag­ging,’ she said.

‘Some young peo­ple think it fees as though they are in­vis­i­ble and no one will know they are do­ing it. Maybe they want to get re­venge for some­thing an­other child did to them at school that day.’

She said some of the most com­mon forms of so­cial me­dia used for bul­ly­ing was in­stant mes­sag­ing, text mes­sag­ing, Face­book, Twit­ter and Snapchat.

‘Of­ten times, it is used to send hate­ful or threat­en­ing mes­sages or to spread ru­mours about the vic­tim,’ she ex­plained.

Grainne said an­other is­sue is for­mer friends us­ing pass­words to im­per­son­ate the vic­tim and say mean things to their friends, pre­tend­ing they are the vic­tim in or­der to iso­late them.

She out­lined some of the most fre­quently used tools for bul­ly­ing, in­clud­ing text wars when young peo­ple gang up on one in­di­vid­ual and bom­bard them with text mes­sages and pic­tures and in­ter­net polling with young peo­ple asked to vote on­line for who they think is the ugli­est, fat­est etc girl or boy in school.

Grainne also dis­cussed one of the most pop­u­lar so­cial me­dia out­lets for chil­dren and teens, Snapchat, and how the in­tro­duc­tion of a new fea­ture can re­veal a danger­ous amount of in­for­ma­tion.

‘If your child puts their lo­ca­tion into the map then ev­ery­one knows where they area. You need to click on friends and fmaily only and put it in ghost mode so that the in­for­ma­tion isn’t avail­able pub­licly. The map means peo­ple can trakc where they are at any given time so it could be po­ten­tially very danger­ous,’ she said.

Grainne spoke about in­ter­ac­tive games ex­plain­ing that many young peo­ple use th­ese on gam­ing de­vices such as Xbox LIve and the Plays­ta­tion.

‘It’s quite com­mon for young peo­ple on th­ese plat­forms to ver­bally abuse other young peo­ple us­ing threats and rude lan­guage which play­ing th­ese games. In ad­di­tion, play­ing th­ese games in an open group al­lows strangers to lis­ten in on con­ver­sa­tions, get in­for­ma­tion and even track you.

‘You could have an adult, miles away, con­tact­ing your child on Xbox Live and they’re pre­tend­ing they are 13 and lur­ing the in say­ing: ‘Do you want to play games with me, this is bril­liant, why don’t you do this, why don’t you do that.’

She said the set up was ideal for paeod­philes be­cause it is an easy way to gain ac­cess to chil­dren by pos­ing anony­mously as an­other child or teenager.

‘They get talk­ing to kids and they might say do you want to meet to talk about games. Don’t tell your Mam and Dad. This is how it hap­pens. It’s so danger­ous.

‘Even if you’re just part of an open group on­line, strangers could be lis­ten­ing in. If you say I live in this es­tate and you think you’re only in­no­cently talk­ing to one of your friends, they are lis­ten­ing in and might have a lot of in­for­ma­tion about where you go to school, where you live. Lots of per­sonal de­tails.’

Men­tal health is an­other is­sue sur­round­ing on­line gam­ing, said Grainne, as more and more teenagers spend hours play­ing video games.

‘Com­pul­sive video gam­ing is a mod­ern day psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­or­der,’ she said. ‘Sleep de­pri­va­tion and agro­pho­bia are big side ef­fect of too much time play­ing com­puter games.’

She out­lined some of the danger­ous YouTube chal­lenges which have left teenagers scarred and maimed as a re­sult, such as the fire chal­lenge, the cin­na­mon chal­lenge and the Kylie Jen­ner chal­lenge.

She also gave a num­ber of im­por­tant tips and ad­vice for any­one whose child may be the vic­tim of cy­ber bul­ly­ing, in­clud­ing send­ing the bully a non-emo­tional, as­sertive mes­sage telling him or her to stop, ig­nor­ing and block­ing all com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the cy­ber bully through so­cial me­dia, email and IM con­tact.

Grainne also ad­vised paretns to print and save the threat­en­ing mes­sages and to en­sure your child avoids goo­ing to the site or group where they have been at­tacked.

She ad­vised par­ents to come up with a plan with their child, to talk to the cy­ber bully’s par­ents and in se­ri­ous sit­u­a­tions to con­tact the gar­daí.

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