Technology is great. It makes our lives easier, more manageable, and more fun. However, bullies have found a way to take that same technology and turn it into a medium of harassment. If your child has a cell phone, a laptop, a Facebook page, or even a blog, he/she is susceptible to cyberbullying–a form of bullying that lately, has overshadowed “traditional bullying”.
Cyberbullying has all the same side-effects that traditional bullying has, and more. As I’m sure you know, consistent bullying of any kind can create serious emotional damage to a child. Their life can be turned into a nightmare. Among other things, their reputation at school can be destroyed because of humiliating videos on YouTube or snide comments on Facebook/MySpace being exposed for their other friends to see on the internet.
The purpose of this blog post is to leave you and your child with some tips and tools to aid you in case cyberbullying happens in your family. There are multiple ways to handle the situation, some are better than others. Read on and see which methods I feel are the most productive:
Always keep hard copies and digital copies of cyberbullying emails, don’t reply to the email as it will only add gasoline to the fire. In extreme cases where you or your child feels your lives are being threatened, call the police.
How To: Don’t delete the email, keep it in an email sub-folder so it stays organized. (See image below)
Children emails: Make sure to give them or tell them to create gender neutral email addresses so that random bullies don’t know if the email recipent is male or female.
Always create strong passwords: do not use your/your child’s first or last name anywhere in their email password. Refrain from using easy passwords such as pet names or best friends’ names. Make sure there’s a good mix of numbers and letters as well. For a great-password-making tool, check out: http://www.passwordmeter.com/
For Text Messages:
Don’t delete the text message, and just like emails, don’t respond to the text.
Keep it in your phone and if the bullying gets too serious file a formal complaint with your cell phone provider, or again, in serious instances, call the police.
Any internet related cyberbullying: (social networks, emails, chat rooms, YouTube, etc)
Below I will show you how to take screenshots. This is one of the best ways to keep digital copies of any type of harassment. On the other hand, most big sites like YouTube, Facebook, and AOL have some sort of service that allows you to file a complaint. When you do this, they will most likely ask you if you have evidence of the harassment–this is where the screenshot comes in handy.
On any Windows based PC, you can take a screenshot by pressing the “Prt Sc” key on your keyboard.
This will create an image file of exactly what you see on your computer screen. After pressing the “Prt sc” button, go to an image program such as Paint (comes with any Windows based computer) and once you have the program open, just click on “paste” or press Ctrl + V.
Now save the file somewhere on your computer where you can easily find it.
Mac OSX based:
If you have an Apple Mac, press the Command key + shift + 3 to send an image file straight to your Desktop.
Make sure you save the image to a folder that you’ll remember (maybe make a new folder titled “cyberbullying”) that way you can easily find the proof that you need when things get too serious and you decide to report it.
Free screenshot software:
In a previous blog, I gave some advice to one of my friends when her daughter was being cyberbullied on Facebook. I told her about a great application called Jing. With Jing you can easily document screenshots or video recordings from website activity–this is a great way to generate some evidence of cyberbullying. Check it out at http://www.jingproject.com/download/
This video will show you how to capture video:
I am sure that this list is somewhat incomplete so if you know of any other ways to effectively record cyberbullying, please let me know by commenting on the blog.