Cyberbullying, Your Digital Footprint, and How to Act on The Internet

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Cyberbullying, Your Digital Footprint, and How to Act on The Internet

Coco Standley, Writer

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When it comes to cyberbullying, many people are unaware of the alarming statistics.  If you are reading this and scratching your head, don’t feel badly because you are not alone. According to  DoSomething.org, “60% of young people have witnessed online bullying. Most do not intervene.” Sixty percent is quite a big number, and it’s sad to think of how many people will have to deal with this at some point in their lives because the fact is no one is immune from it.  It just takes one jealous or judgmental person to cause a ripple effect which will ultimately lead to major damage for all involved.

But there are a few things cyberbullies don’t think about like how quickly this type of rumor mill escalates, what the repercussions could be, and how this can actually turn around to bite them.  In many areas, online bullying is now considered a form of harassment and a formal report can be made with your local police department. This is something you are not going to want to be tied to your name or on your permanent record.

And how much do you know about your digital footprint? When you leave footprints in the sand at the beach, the waves come and wash them away, but when it comes to the internet, whatever you view, or type is never fully-erased, it’s captured  and the data is kept “somewhere.” Remember: Just because YOU can’t see it, and you think you’ve deleted it, it’s still there. Fun fact: Whatever you type is saved on a server or in the “cloud” even if anyone deletes it. Nowadays, there is software that can tell who you are, where you are, and other important details like your browsing history, and even keystrokes which will save every letter you’ve ever typed including your passwords and login information. So not only can this information be used as proof against you if you cyberbully someone, but if you don’t protect your information online, a hacker can easily see all the information they need to steal your identity.

So how can you make a difference in cyberspace? First thing, be nice. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all. And in case you didn’t know, sarcasm does not translate well over text and the internet either. You’ll sound more like a jerk than a jokester. Doing the right thing is called having good digital citizenship. Everyone deserves a safe space on the internet. Here are some more tips on how to be a better digital citizen:

  1. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Don’t say mean things, don’t gossip, and think about what you are going to type before you hit enter.

  2. Ask yourself, “What could happen if I post this?” If you think even for one second it could be hurtful to you or someone else, then don’t send it. I promise you’ll regret it.

  3. Nothing is a secret on the internet. If you do not want certain information shared, then don’t post it.

  4. Stranger Danger: It’s real. It’s scary, and don’t mess with it. Only communicate with those you know in person and see on a regular basis. As mentioned above, anyone can pretend to be someone else on the internet.

  5. Don’t be a catfish either! Don’t make up multiple fake accounts, or pretend you are someone you are not. This can also get you in trouble with the police if they feel you were using someone’s information to get something like information or actual goods.

6. Speak up and take a screenshot if you see someone being cyberbullied or being a cyberbully. You can file a formal complaint with the school board, and if it continues, contact your local police department and notify them of the harassment.

 

Every day, people you know are being cyberbullied and that’s why OCDE is coming to Parks Junior High to host a parent workshop about Cyber Safety and Social Media.  On Thursday, September 26th, from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm, adults can learn about how they can keep their children safe on social media. Cyber safety is very important we need to understand how to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from the not so pretty things and people crawling around the internet.