Cyber-attacks are one of the biggest threats to the good health of our computers and networks, but what if there is no hack?
An attack of cyberbullying is where technology is used as a weapon to bully someone, with the intent of causing physical, emotional, or social harm. With the popularity of mobile devices soaring in recent years, along with the increase in the use of the internet by children, a surge of cyber-bullying has gone hand-in-hand with this trend. It is estimated media use is the most time-consuming activity of youths after sleeping, with adolescents perhaps seeking friendship online as a means of self-validation from their peers.
ReachOut report one in five young Australian's have been subjected to cyber-bullying at some point in their childhood. Most concerning is the rising number of high-profile cases of teenage suicide linked to being mistreated over the internet, making cyber-bullying prevention initiatives more important than ever.
Cyberbullying occurs in multiple ways, such as:
hurtful texts and messages
inappropriate images or videos
imitating a person's electronic identity
accessing someone's accounts to change their information or post online content on their behalf
humiliating someone online
malicious online gossip.
There is no set method for dealing with cyberbullies as every perpetrator, victim and incident is different. However, some recommended strategies for your child if they are a victim of cyber-bullying situation include:
advise someone you trust such as a parent, teacher, or friend
report bullying and harassment to online social media providers
block the bully on social media and other communication channels
adjust device privacy settings
change your passwords and do not share with anyone
avoid retaliating with a response
keep any evidence such as messages, print emails, or screenshot online conversations
reduce time spent online
distract yourself from the situation by doing things you enjoy such as catching up with friends, listening to music or playing sports
Kelly Van Nelson is the author of Graffiti Lane, a contemporary poetry collection tackling social issues such as bullying and domestic violence. Graffiti Lane is available now through multiple distribution channels. Available on Amazon, Booktopia and Book Depository.
Question: At what age is it necessary to educate our children about cyber-safety?
Kelly Van Nelson: Children, sometimes as young as six or seven may have access to online material at school or at home. This means they can be exposed to risks relating to inappropriate content, contact, and conduct. It is therefore recommended parents begin to educate children about cyber-safety from primary school age. Most social media sites request users be over 13 years of age, but proof of age is not always sought. If a parent allows online access for their child it is important they educate about the risks and supervise the way it is used.
Question: What should parents be teaching their children in regards to cyber safety?
Kelly Van Nelson: Parents should spend time online together with their children to teach them appropriate online behaviour. Instilling the basics such as not accepting online friend requests from anyone they do not personally know and have never met is invaluable. Although social media providers are improving on how they tackle removing inappropriate content, parents should make sure their child is aware that anything posted may potentially remain online forever as screenshots can be taken and information can spread across channels and go viral. It is important children are taught how to practice good online etiquette, to be kind and avoid participating in negative posts, and to always portray themselves and others in a respectful manner online.
Question: How can parents actively educate themselves about cyber bullying?
Kelly Van Nelson: One of the best ways a parent can educate themselves about cyber bullying is to talk directly to their child about technology and the risks of cyber bullying. Ensuring open communication channels exist is one of the best ways to build trust and learn about online trends and behaviour.
The Australian Media and Communications Authority has an excellent website called eSafety which carries advice for children, parents and schools: https://esafety.gov.au. You can report serious online bullying to https://www.esafety.gov.au/complaints-andreporting.