What is Cyberbullying?

As per NCERT’s booklet, Safe Online Learning In Times of Covid-19, “Cyberbullying involves the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature. It also involves posting pictures or videos aimed at harassing another person.” It includes:

  1. “Posting hurtful, nasty rumours or comments on updates, pictures and videos shared by an individual on websites
  2. Uploading embarrassing photographs online without the person’s permission
  3. Excluding individuals of different cultural, socio-economic backgrounds from online groups and forums.
  4. Stealing someone’s account password and sending unwanted/inappropriate messages from that account to harass other individuals.”

Even though cyberbullying is a punishable offence under the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Indian Penal Code, it is often not reported by people.

How can we stay safe online?

In this covid era, where we are forced to do most of our work online and education has also moved online, it’s important to know how to protect oneself and our children from cyberbullying. Some things we need to keep in mind are:

  • Change passwords frequently; and create a strong password. Don’t reveal passwords to anyone (parents should know their children’s password and should keep a track of their wards’ online activities).
  • Read privacy settings on social networking sites very carefully.
  • Some real-life rules need to be followed in virtual life as well. One of them is to avoid talking to strangers. Communicate only with people you know.
  • Remember, whatever you post online will remain there forever. So, before posting photographs, videos, phone numbers or any sensitive information, ask yourself – Is it worth the risk?
  • Avoid revealing your (or your relatives/friends) personal information like address (home, school or office), phone number, email address, etc. online.
  • When using public computers or networks, log out when you have finished your work. Also, avoid using personal devices like USBs or hard drives.

Parents should explain the advantages and disadvantages of using internet to their children.

How to prevent/ counter cyberbullying?

  1. Block and Report: This is one of the best weapons you have in hand to fight cyberbullying. If someone troubles you, block him/her. You may also report against the person on the social media platform.
  2. Don’t stay quiet. Talk about it: Children should not get scared and keep quiet. Talk to your parents or teachers and seek their help.

If despite taking precautions, cyberbullying doesn’t stop, it is time to report the matter to the police.

With inputs from Safe Online Learning In Times of Covid-19

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