Cyberbullying and harassment can happen to anybody, especially when our time on the internet can cause us to interact with trolls and throw-away accounts. As adults this can be a tricky thing to navigate, but kids with their lack of experience are especially in need of direction. When they see their friend or acquaintance they follow online being harassed or bullied, what should we tell them to do?
Utilizing the Online Harassment Field Model (utilized by journalists) and our well-researched curriculum for our students, we put together these simple steps that will benefit the children you teach immediately and in the future.
3 Ways To Hack Cyberbullying and Harassment
1. They can tell the harasser/bully to stop. Just like we taught them to respond to in-person bullies, they can and ought to tell that person to stop. However, if their threat assessment leads them to believe that this will not work, they can jump to step 2.
2. Report the content and user to the social media platform it happened on. When the offending user doesn’t stop, teach the child to take a screenshot to document the bullying or harassment and to report what they see. Often the platforms make this easy with the three dots on Facebook and Reddit, sliding left on the comment in Instagram, and holding down on the comment on TikTok.
Help them see that they also need to go to an adult and show them what’s going on, and that it’s ok to tell multiple adults until they get the help they need. You can also report on multi-player video games like Minecraft, but some games will show who filed the report so they may need to immediately move to step 3.
3. Block the offending user. They’ve asked the person to stop, they didn’t stop and are still continuing poor behavior online, and your child is sick of seeing it (or the game doesn’t anonymize reports made and there is a need to drop off the offending user’s radar.) Help them understand that they get to control their user experience and can block users they no longer wish to see comments from or interact with.
As a parent or teacher, be aware that the children are doing more interaction online than we know about. We can help them tighten privacy controls and disallow them to view or make comments, but teaching them how to act will keep them the most safe and empower them as they grow into adults. Remember to help them create usernames that aren’t their real name and show them that they can also be helpers in creating safe online communities for themselves, their friends, and their family members.