On Monday, 18 February 2019 another young life was tragically cut short due to being cyber bullied by fellow learners. Sowetan (published 20/02/2019).

The internet is such a great tool. It connects us. It gives us a platform to voice our opinions, and it encourages creative expression. But this same internet can also be used by others to harm us!

Sadly, the internet and social media have a dark side – especially for young people. Every time you click on Facebook or WhatsApp, you face the risk of being cyber-bullied and exposed to child exploitation material. It can happen any time of the day or night and it limits your ability to use the internet in a positive way.

But don’t freak out and start closing all your social media accounts.  Help is on the way –Web Rangers have a few tips that can use should you encounter a similar situation!

What’s cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Examples of cyberbullying include mean or hurtful text messages or emails, rumours sent by email or posted on social networking sites, embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles. Like other forms of bullying such as verbal abuse, social exclusion and physical aggression, cyberbullying may result in the targeted person developing social, psychological issues.

Here’s what to do:

Don’t Respond. Don’t respond to the bully. If they don’t get a response they may get bored and go away. Don’t get revenge – bullies must not turn you into a bully.

Block the person. You can block their number on your cellphone and this will stop you seeing messages or texts from that particular person. If they are bullying you on a platform like Facebook or Instagram you can unfriend them or even block them completely.

Report it. Report the person to the social media platform you are on. If the bullying continues, report the bullying to an adult you can trust. You may want to talk to your mum, dad, brother, sister or teacher. You can also call Childline on 08000 55555. Childline provides free, confidential counselling to children and you can phone them anytime (day or night) to help you with any concern or issue you have.

Remember – perpetrators will try to get info that they can use against you, like a picture or video of you in a compromising situation. I know that having all your private and confidential info exposed is terrible and violates your right to privacy and dignity! However, should they get hold of such info and threaten you with it. Be the first to speak to a trusted adult before the info gets out. By doing this, you take back your power and are in a position to get help from teachers and your parents before the situation gets out of hand! Adults were also young hot headed teens, they too made mistakes. They will understand that you have made a mistake & move quick to help you solve it!

If you are struggling and need help, contact the SA Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) on 011 234 4837 or on the emergency suicide line‚ 0800 567 567.

For more tips and tools on how you take back your power by staying safe online, visit: Webrangers.co.za and Hashplay.co.za

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Please also contact social media agony aunt  here– she is here to lend an ear and assist you with all the problems and challenges you encounter online!

Web Rangers is made possible through the support of: Media Monitoring Africa, Google, Facebook, MTN, Film and Publication Board, Department of Telecommunication and Postal Services & Diana Schwarz Attorneys.