Cyberbully – a health and wellbeing wakeup call


The trailers for this programme on Channel 4 were intriguing and terrifying at the same time. That being said I didn’t really know what to expect. What I saw was firstly an amazing performance by Maisie Williams and secondly the extent to which teenagers today live out their lives on the internet.

I use Facebook and obviously I blog but I would never post anything that I wouldn’t be happy for everyone else to see. When I was at high school MSN messenger was about as high tech as it got. There was only one computer in the whole house and the internet took an age to dial up. What a difference a decade and a half makes! The sheer range of programmes and apps that some people use is astonishing – Facebook, Skype, Twitter, Instagram, Blogging sites and youtube. Not that this is a bad thing but the anonymity of the internet can cause people to be bullies. This problem is now so widespread that cyberbullying or trolling is now a recognised crime.

Making what can seem like a funny comment on a video can be extremely hurtful. Saying that someone should eat less pies isn’t as innocuous to the person it is actually about. Some cyberbulling goes further to actual threats of harm for no reason. Most don’t even know the victim and yet feel that they have the right to comment about that person. If you wouldn’t say it to their face why is ok to say it on the internet? No matter how much you want to ignore it, it isn’t that easy. Having received hate filled messages and posts very unsubtly aimed at me I know first hand how upsetting it can be – and that is as an adult.

We have a duty of care as teachers to deal with many aspects of our pupils mental health and wellbeing and remembering the role that social media plays in that is very important.

Here are some examples of how social media in particular can have a huge effect on pupils health and wellbeing:

  • Not receiving an invite to a party then finding out about it when photos appeared online
  • Find out they’ve been dumped by changed facebook relationship status
  • Comments on pictures / videos
  • Videos made ridiculing them
  • Being de-friended and or blocked
  • Having unflattering photos posted
  • Being bullied in school that continues outside school online
  • Private messages with nasty comments

It is a very difficult issue but something that teachers really have to be aware of. Telling them them to ignore it does not work but here is some advice to give pupils.

1. Block the person who is sending your hateful things, defriend as well if you want but if you feel you can’t, blocking will stop you seeing anything they post

2. Set your privacy settings to the highest you can so that no one can post a picture that you are tagged in without your approval

3. Only be friends with people you know in person

4. Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t be happy for you your parents or grandparents to see

5. If you feel upset by something that has been posted online copy and paste it into a word document. You then have firm evidence that you can show a trusted adult – this could be a parent, carer, class teacher or guidance teacher.

6. Tell someone – being bullied online is just as unacceptable as being bullied in person, it is never your fault and you do not deserve to be made to feel bad

7. Don’t make nasty comments about other people – if you wouldn’t like someone posting it about you it is not alright to write it about someone else

8. If someone is being nasty to you online it is not acceptable to be nasty back – don’t sink to their level

9. Keep your username and password secret and log out properly on devices. Being fraped is not funny.

And finally

10. Do real things with real people – teenagers have survived for millennia without the internet so can you


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