5 Steps To Cyber Safety


5 Steps To Cyber Safety

“Beyond the garb of friendship“ – 5 simple steps to cyber safety 

From “Hey it’s just a picture” to “I am not taking the post down”, cyberbullying and harassment come in various forms and notions; often hard to identify let alone be fixed. 

Being a teenager on the Internet is as complex as it sounds- while your profile out there is evidence of your existence online, recognizing legitimate accounts on the other end is perplexing! You would want to socialize, form groups and join community servers on Discord to discuss your favourite TV shows and that is completely normal. 

However, realizing when an unknown or known “Instagrammer” becomes a threat is extremely critical. One of the worst implications of this virtual identity is the power they hold from the other face of the screen. 

“The mutual link”- the blurred line between friends and threat

I am sure you have experienced cyberbullying somewhere through the social media journey- felt threatened into doing something you did not want to say joining a random VC when they replied to your HMUs or sharing aggressive posts online about someone you know. 

Sometimes you become friends over the internet and place your trust in them and that is alright, you’re only human and you could not have possibly known. But you must realize the importance of online safety, especially in recent times when accessibility to the Internet is super easy and widespread. 

Let’s look into some instances I have seen around me from both known and unknown sources to understand the 5 steps involved to deal with cyberbullying.

For unknown sources:

1. Identify irksome behaviour:

Including shady messages, repeated posts with edits over their faces, very high or very low (unnatural) followers and following lists, etc.

My friend received a direct message with an unsolicited and strange picture on Instagram. The sender also threatened by arguing that they knew some information about my friend which would be exposed online if they did not video chat.

2. Stay calm and react rationally:

Even though the situation is overwhelming enough to lose your sanity, try to keep it together and report to concerned authorities. 

Terrified but with a calm temper, my friend blocked the account and called them out on her stories so that everyone else could report the account as well. 

Remember!!!  In such situations, the urge to reply and to stand up to them directly over chat must be resisted as it might escalate into something bigger than the actual issue. It is suggested to save evidence, report/ block the account and ask your friends to do the same. 

For known sources:

3. Acceptance of being deceived 

In the example I mentioned earlier it was easy to identify the threat. However, there are times when the bully’s virtual identity has been in contact for months, pretending to be friends with you and gradually upping the bullying game by manipulation, being abusive when things do not go their way or forcing you to meet in real life, etc.

It is heartbreaking to see your friend act so strangely but STOP! This is toxic!

4. Stop, Analyse, Report

analyse their requests, their identity and your mutuals. If something shady comes up, block and report them right away.

It tends to creep into your mind as a harmless request when it is not. Such activity must be reported immediately. Stay away from them over other media of contact you might have with them online, report/block their account, and spend more time with your family and real friends; talk to them about it. 

Bullying and harassment can get worse. If not for your correct response, they might do it to someone else again. If you identify suspicious behaviour- using hate speech and symbols when they are pretending to be someone else, manipulation or anything that makes you feel uncomfortable and down- speak up! Speak up for yourself and for other potential victims of the perpetrator.

5. Let go and learn:

Mental peace and health post cyberbullying episode

Coming to the process after identification and rectification of said activity- let’s be real, it takes a toll on our minds. As much as you try not to think about it or focus on yourself and the good things in life, it seeps into the smallest crevices of your brain making it hard to be attentive, productive and the awesome person that you are.

  • Talk, talk and talk when you’re ready: That is not acceptable and nobody gets to have this hold over you. Talk to adults about it. Your parents might be old and they might not know what is trending on Tiktok these days but they know life. They are experienced and they know better than a stressed-out teenager of course; they will be there for you at the end of the day no matter what.

Don’t assume their replies as to “I’m taking your phone away”, no. I am sure they would be very understanding and they could guide you better than anyone else on this planet. Have an open conversation with them, address your concerns, and express and drain all of your emotions on them if that’s what it takes! 

Lastly, with an expert take on the situation, emotional support from friends and family and this replenished and open bond with your parents; with time the effects of what happened would not be so hard to deal with and it would be a tiny bit easier for you to identify the threat and fix it bravely. Ciao stay safe, besties!

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