Digital expert and bullying survivor Harvey Morton shares his top tips on how to protect yourself against cyberbullying
This week is Anti-Bullying Week. While it’s annoying that it takes people a week to remind them to be kind, it’s also encouraging that so many people are “united against bullying.” I wanted to be one of those who would agree to find a solution.
I was born prematurely and my hand-eye coordination was impaired. That’s why I always struggled with sports at school. I also speak slowly. People have found it acceptable to make fun of my limits and imitate my voice to shame me. While this bullying was difficult, it has been harder to deal with online attacks. Cyberbullying seems to be following you everywhere, and the rigged videos posted on YouTube have affected my mental wellbeing.
The experience of offending messages is challenging, but it taught me lessons on how to protect myself. I wanted to share this with you today so that you would be better protected.
1. Protect your borders
The current rise in online bullying is, in my opinion, a result of our loss of boundaries. We don’t keep our life to ourselves and instead share it with everyone. That makes us vulnerable. While you may not believe that sharing your business with the world is harmful, invite comments every time you do.
It’s not your fault that people are rude. I have to say this now so you know that it is not your fault. However, you can keep yourself free from unkind people by sticking to your boundaries. Only let the people you know and trust into your online and offline world.
2. Check your privacy settings
Since your privacy is a valuable asset, it is helpful to check the privacy settings on your social networks. Keep these settings high and don’t accept people you don’t know in the real world as your contact or friend if you are concerned.
3. Never answer
You want to stand up for yourself – it is a natural reaction when someone says something unkind to you. Even saying something in your own defense will open the door to further attack. There is no way you want to take revenge or post something in revenge to humiliate those who hurt you. Not only would this get you up to their standard, but you could make things worse for yourself.
4. Block and report
The best response to cyberbullying is to shut the perpetrator out of your world. You don’t have to let them repeat the offense – block them. While telling people is oddly taboo, you should report the behavior. Keep in mind that they are likely to do the same to other people as well.
5. Try to understand
Trying to understand the bully is the most difficult of these suggestions, but by far one of the most helpful. If you can keep yourself from feeling personal, what a gift that would be. Most bullies are unhappy and confused. When people are hurt, they are angry at whoever is around. Of course, feeling sympathy for the person who is cruel to you is a big question. But at least you can tell that it has nothing to do with you.
6. Believe in yourself
One of the hardest things in life is trusting that you know yourself best. You know you are not what they say – so why be bothered? While this is difficult to do and most people still make an effort to believe in themselves and know who they are, it is your best defense against the opinions of others.
7. Talk to someone
Don’t be still. The most important advice I can offer is to talk to someone. Not only will this conversation document what happens to you when it escalates, but you’ll also lift the weight of the upset off your shoulders. Find someone you trust, a teacher, parent, or other adult who will give you the opportunity to seek mediation if possible.
But most of all, remember that you are not alone. I am writing so that you will know that I am united with you in the fight against bullying. Ultimately, if we all turn to others with kindness, it will calm those who want to make us unhappy.
Find out more about Harvey’s work on his website harveymorton.digital.
If you are dealing with any form or effects of bullying and are looking for support, you should speak to a counselor. Visit the Counseling Directory for assistance.