How to deal with being bullied through your phone…
Getting bullied on social media can feel horribly isolating and upsetting. The ping of every incoming message sets you on edge, wondering if you’ll open the message to find yet more abuse from a bully. Social media can become a gateway for bullies to invade your life, your happiness and even your safe space – your home.
Cyberbullying On WhatsApp
Cyberbullying on WhatsApp can take many forms. You may be receiving nasty, unwanted messages that make you feel upset and frightened. The bullies may be targeting your race, appearance or sexuality and call you names or threaten you via messages and voice notes.
If you’re in a group and the members start to call you names or target you in a negative way, this can feel intimidating and upsetting. Group chats can often become negative spaces or even abusive. Take screenshots, avoid getting into any discussions and click ‘Leave Group’. Talk to a parent or a teacher you trust about it and show them the screenshots as evidence of the bullying.
“A bunch of girls at my gymnastics class once started a secret group chat about me where they called me names and said horrible things about the way I looked. I honestly thought these people were my friends until another girl took me aside and told me about the secret chat. It hurt a lot and I felt so insecure and upset. I didn’t know what to do so I told my mum. She told the gymnastics leader who spoke to the people involved and demanded it was stopped or they’d be asked to leave the class. The girls have since apologised and while we’ll never be friends, I’m glad I spoke out about it when I did.”
If you’ve ever been in a situation like Laila’s you’ll know how isolating and distressing it can be, especially if you see some of the nasty comments that have been made. This is cyberbullying, even if you’re not in the group chat, and it’s never OK and never acceptable.
Protect Yourself From Cyberbullying On WhatsApp
There are steps you can take to protect your privacy online and this can help to reduce cyberbullying. You can adjust your settings to help keep you safe:
- Make Your Account Private
You can set your account to ensure your profile is only seen by your contacts or by ‘Nobody’. You can also easily block people if you need to and can manage those you have blocked within the ‘Settings’ tab. A blocked user will not be able to see your content and you will not be able to see theirs.
- Blocking Bullies
You can easily block people who are mean to you. Click on their name and select ‘Block Contact’.
- Reporting Bullies
Again, click on the person’s name within the WhatsApp app and select ‘Report’. This also gives you the option to block the person at the same time.
How Common Is Cyberbullying?
Sadly, cyberbullying like this has become increasingly common, especially during lockdowns when schools were closed. A study by Uswitch† showed that a quarter of children said online bullying had got worse during lockdowns. Over half of bullied kids said they suffered from name-calling and around a third said they’d had lies spread about them online.
The saddest and most worrying finding was that almost half of these bullied children (47%) kept it a secret from their parents. That’s 47% too many. Nobody deserves to be bullied and absolutely nobody should have to suffer in silence. If you’re a victim of cyberbullying, please speak up and ask for help.
Learn more about cyberbullying here: https://hiddenstrength.com/for-me/bullying/cyber-bullying/cyberbullying-the-lowdown/
*Name changed to protect identity.