Ways to Beat Social Network Bullies at Their Own Game

October 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Cyber Bullies

Cyberbullying is a major problem on social networks, whether it’s a school-aged kid getting harassed by the cool kids clique, or a workplace bully bringing his issues out of the workplace and onto social media sites. More than 30 percent of students have been threatened online in some way or another, reports Bullying Statistics.

Ineffective Response Methods

Cyberbullying is a high-profile concern for many social networks, so in many cases, a social network may ban a bully, or otherwise try to get them off of the network. TechRadar reports this is not incredibly effective, since it motivates the bully to step up their efforts, create multiple accounts, and can cause escalation of the bullying. It’s a tricky line to walk, between protecting users and managing cyberbully problems. This is particularly true with sites such as Facebook, where it’s easy for the bully’s friends to jump on the bandwagon with the teasing and harassing of students.

Don’t Feed the Trolls

Some bullies simply want the attention it brings, even if it’s all negative attention. When you refuse to interact or engage with these types of bullies, their motivation for causing problems decreases significantly. They will find a target they can get a reaction out of, instead of making futile efforts against a stoic individual. If you do need to react, do it in such a way they cannot observe, such as on a specialized Facebook list that excludes their user account.

Confrontation

Cyberbullies don’t know what to do when the bullying target stands up for themselves online. Instead of passively sitting there and assuming someone else will eventually take care of the problem, call the bully out on their behavior. Tell them it’s not acceptable and why, and explain to them the effect it’s going to have on their immediate life. When you get your friends behind you to concretely say this action is not condoned, it may be enough to make the bully back off. For example, Pastor Ed Young advocates for bully confrontation instead of sitting on the sidelines, making the social networks and the world at large a much better place.

Positive Messages

Kare 11 reports on a high school football player who used social networks to mitigate the damage bullies were doing to his classmates. He is the popular jock, but he sees less popular kids and those not in the “in” crowd getting harassed time and time again by bullies. Instead of sitting there passively and waiting for the problem to pass, he created a Twitter account and fills it with positive messages about everyone who is getting harassed online. He isn’t fighting fire with fire or negativity, he’s simply pointing out the good in people, and hoping his influence will cause his classmates to come away from cyberbullying by realizing their victims are people too. Cyberbullying will continue to be a major issue as social networks are a part of day-to-day life, but these methods help to decrease the number of bullies out there.

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