How to deal with cyber bullying

Nicolette Loizou / 03 September 2015

If you – or your grandchildren – are being targeted by cyber bullies it can be very distressing. But there are steps you can take to minimise it. Here’s how.

The internet is now used by almost everybody and, inevitably, that includes the less desirable members of society who cower behind the anonymity of the medium to post upsetting and, in some cases, devastating abuse. 

They don’t just stop at the internet, however, and will use texts to spread their hurtful messages. 

So what can you do if you – or your grandchildren – are being targeted by cyber bullies? Here are a few steps on how you can respond to it. 

Harmful messages

If the cyber bullying has taken on a truly sinister stance and you are on the receiving end of threats of violence including sexual violence then keep a record of the messages such as via a screenshot and report it to the police. 

Ignore it

If it is less threatening then don’t give the bullies the satisfaction of knowing you are upset. Just ignore it and once they realise you’re not going to participate then they’ll move onto someone else.

Block communication

Block their email address and mobile phone number and delete them from your social media contact lists.

Report it

Several of the most high-profile social media platforms will include detailed methods of how to report someone who has been not using their social media responsibly. 

Facebook, for example, has a strategy in place for reporting misuse even if you don’t have an account with the platform. 

If you think your grandchild is being bullied: 

  • Watch for any behaviour which might indicate they are being bullied, such as being distressed or anxious after receiving a text or going online.
  • Friend them on Facebook or other social media sites and keep a watch on who posts and whether it is distressing or not. Tell them to ‘unfriend’ the person if they post messages which could be construed as harassment.
  • Encourage them to tell you if they are being bullied. And reassure them that they will not lose their computer or mobile privileges if they confide. 

Staying safe online 

  • Remember to never give out any personal information, such as passwords to anyone; you might be friends now but the future might hold a different story.
  • Don’t spread rumours, however tempting and juicy they might be.
  • Think twice about what you share online. If you are planning to upload a photo or video, always check with whoever appears in the photo or video that they are happy for it to be shared. 

For more tips read our guide to staying safe online

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.