In addition to my article about bullying, social networks provide a golden opportunity to blackmail victims into submission.
Children must communicate over their use of the internet with parents, who must be aware of trolls who appear and spam nasty comments everywhere.
Things that can help a child be protected from bullying on the internet include:
- Setting as much information on their Facebook profiles to private (Go to the Privacy Setting under the mechanical cog symbol on the far right of the blue Facebook toolbar)
- Setting their tweets to private on their Twitter profiles (Under the mechanical cog symbol on the far right of the black Twitter toolbar, select “‘Username’ Edit profile”, then select ‘Account’ from the options provided and then tick the checkbox for ‘Protect my tweets’ next to Tweet privacy. Press the blue ‘Save changes’ button at the bottom of the page, where a dialog box asking you to re-submit your password will appear. This must be filled in order to ensure your child’s tweets are only seen by their ‘followers’.) Such an action will also mean those who want to follow a user must ask permission from the user themselves
- Parents should use a mobile tracking service to attempt to clamp on bullies who steal phones and misuse them
- A child may have to change their mobile or their BlackBerry Messenger (or any other instant messenger app) number or key regularly to avoid being tracked down by bullies too easily
Alternatively, contacting the police to take action these bullies could involve the police confiscating the bullies’ mobile phones and place them on an electronic-tagging probation sentence
What can a child do to reduce chances of being bullied by their virtual friends?
Such privacy action may not be enough. It is highly advisable a young child and their friends to be taught ‘online etiquette’.
There are many articles about what ‘online etiquette’ is, but I personally advise children to avoid disclosing certain information online such as:
- Credit/debit card numbers
- Phone numbers (there are so many people who disclose their phone numbers on Facebook, regularly posting to groups where the administrator(s) has lost their list of numbers! Surely users should submit their numbers through the private message system provided?)
- Very sensitive information (disclosure of indices and co-ordinates used to hack major corporations)
- Very personal details (National insurance number etc.)
- Embarrassing personal mishaps
- Criminal involvement (pictures of being part of the EDL and smashing up shop windows)
- Crude nudity
Basic online etiquette rules include:
- Limiting the number of statuses you submit everyday
- Statuses which the user shows an excessive amount of guilt or sorrow over a minor incident or hurting a boyfriend/girlfriend (others may not be sympathetic)
- Statuses of a repetitive nature (pleading for certain people to stop bullying them or idiotic boasting “GONNA SMASH THE GYM TODAY” or “WALKED DOWN THE STREET THIS MORNING WITH JUST MY BRA ON YOLO”)
- Controversial statuses which could potentially offend at least half of your friends/followers (it is vital to be remember the internet serves as one of the 21st century Western World’s platforms for enforcing political correctness)
- Excessive gossiping (Leave that to primary school children)
- Monitor the type of friends you have added (If that ‘person’ has only 36 friends and has a weird-looking, fake photoshopped image, it is highly unlikely that is their true identity)
- In return, don’t add an excessive number of people!
- Ensure you do not reveal your location on the world map, especially when your (or your parents’) property is vacant (This will leave your home vulnerable to burglaries)
- When deleting people, don’t make an obvious snide remark about them in a status afterwards (Their friends will see and rightly frame you as a bitter person with real insecurities)
“A man who had spent his life trolling, suddenly died of a heart attack caused by eating too many Pop-Tarts. When he reached heaven, God neither sent him to heaven and hell. Instead the soul of his ghost was swapped with a Chinese factory worker who packaged dried cucumbers 18 hours a day.”