A majority of us are avid Internet users; aware of its widespread use and the huge impact it has had on our lives. The Internet is the preferred means of communication for many of us, thanks to the innumerable social networking and chat websites! However, the medium also has many drawbacks, the chief one being the lack of privacy and security. The Internet is also prone to attacks like cyberbullying which is the most proliferate attack on the web media.
Understanding the Phenomenon
Bullying is abusing, and cyberbullying implies abusing on the web. A bully can nag his victims through many ways, it can be a regular sending of abusive emails or messages, use of filthy language while chatting, or pretension to be someone else. Mailing the victim vulgar photographs or hateful remarks is also a form of abuse. Most of us today use blogs with an unsuspecting intention of sharing our thoughts with others.
However, bullies have corrupted this platform too, by posting comments that embarrass the victims and others around. Moreover, it being an abuse in public, tends to be more disturbing for the affected person. Constant harassment and bullying on the web leaves a person mentally troubled.
People with destructive minds who derive pleasure abusing others, or those with a revengeful mind often resort to cyberbullying. Children, as I had said earlier, are the soft targets for bullies. It is thus the duty of parents, to themselves be aware of the various protective measures, and to teach their wards the significance of the safe use of the Internet.
For a safe experience on the web you should effectively make use of the privacy features that many websites offer. This holds specially on the social networking websites, where a person has to obligatorily provide some of his personal details. But a major chunk of these websites also offer privacy features through which they offer the choice to determine how much information you wish to reveal to strangers. As a way of protection, you should share your personal data only with your friends.
This was for the social networking websites. Besides, you should always ensure you do not share your information on sites that look doubtful, especially pop-up websites that appear while browsing through the web. This is because bullies, if intelligent, can hack into the website and retrieve the data of your personal information. They then harass the personal details of victims for their ulterior motives. The summation is that you should not reveal your web life (personal details and photos) to strangers. Similar should be taught to children.
The Significance of a Screen Name and Password
The significance of this holds in the instant messaging (IM) chatting websites. People often look to chatting as a means of overcoming boredom or for meeting new people. Unsuspecting people reveal their true names to people they have been chatting with. This being fine, people while communicating with strangers also reveal their contact details. This can cause the person a lot of harm if the other person turns out to be a bully. Thus you should avoid giving your personal details to strangers. Screen names and email addresses that reveal your age and gender should be avoided.
Your password should only be 'your password' known only to you, and you should not even reveal it to people who are trustworthy. The password should be intelligently designed and should not be a common phrase that can be easily hacked. Explain it to your ward the importance of password privacy and ask him/her to not reveal it to anyone.
Never Retaliate to a Bully
Another way to protect yourself from a particular bully is not retaliating to his comments. If someone bullies you on the Internet you should immediately block that person from accessing your web profile. It is the motive of the bully to trouble you and he will derive more fun if you show that the bullying is troubling you. Thus, ideally you should leave the chat room immediately and should never respond to the messages. Your tormentor will get tired of your lack of response and subsequently will stop troubling you.
If you are constantly being harassed on the web, deal with it by saving all the offensive messages. You can then report these messages to the concerned authorities. There are many laws that work against cyberbullying. But it is often impossible to catch the person who was bullying on you. An intelligent way is by changing your email address or phone number. This will end all the trouble. In cases of bullying through chat rooms, you can report the IDs of the bullies to the site moderators.
A Few Important Tips
- If you are a social networking site user, ensure that you have set your security features in the way it is desired.
- Never add a person as a friend if you do not know him/her. If you are chatting with a stranger make sure you do not reveal any of your personal details, until you are sure that the person is trustworthy.
- The privacy of photographs demand special attention, as sometimes, the photographs can also be downloaded and misused for bad motives.
- Never open emails that you feel are suspicious and spam-like. Sending useless spam emails with derogatory language and photos is also bullying.
- When children are using the Internet, parental controls should be installed to prevent the opening of porn and adult sites. Exposure to these websites can have a devastating impact on young minds.