With 2020 being all that it was, many have found themselves spending more time online - it’s changed the way we work, play, learn and connect.
In many ways, our transition to a more digitally connected world has been positive. The internet is an incredible tool - which is why we’ve made it our quest to offer Australians convenient, secure and reliable high-speed access to it. But, let’s be honest. The internet isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
As is the case with all change, there has been a cost to the increased time we’re spending in online spaces. Bullying which may once have occured on the playground or in the office is finding a home online, and we all share a responsibility to stop it.
Stop Cyberbullying Day
Stop Cyberbullying Day is a globally recognised day of awareness and activities coordinated by The Cybersmile Foundation. Every third Friday in June, Stop Cyberbullying Day encourages and empowers millions of people around the world to show their commitment toward a truly inclusive and diverse internet.
As a proud supporter and Official Partner of Stop Cyberbullying Day, Pentanet is committed to making the internet a better place to be.
For us, that starts with taking a look at our own behaviour online; what steps can we take to identify cyberbullying, stop it where we can, and prevent it from happening in the online spaces where we connect, work and play?
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying, sometimes called online bullying, is a type of verbal or social bullying carried out over the internet. As we spend more time online, the prevalence and social impact of cyberbullying is rising.
When we think about cyberbullying, we tend to imagine children bullying other children online. While it’s true that children are more vulnerable to cyberbullying than adults, the impact cyberbullying can have on both adults and children is similar, and cannot be ignored.
Cyberbullying can happen anywhere, at any time, and may occur in obvious or hidden ways.
Banter or Bullying?
Our team at Pentanet are proud gamers, and we love to have a laugh - whether that’s in the lunchroom at the office, or on a digital battlefield after work.
We all know someone who gets a little too salty when they’re on the bottom of the leaderboard; you know, the one who blames their hardware when their… interesting plays don’t go to plan.
It can be hard to resist ribbing your friends when they’re on tilt - and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of playful banter amongst friends (especially when you’re carrying them to victory).
But, there’s a line - and often, it’s a fine one. This line is different for every group of friends, but we are usually pretty good at knowing when it’s been crossed.
- positively intended
- and positively received
Banter becomes bullying when:
- the subject of the joke stops finding it funny
- one person is consistently on the receiving end of banter, but never dishes any out
- someone asks for the banter to stop, but it continues
- when the jokes are not positively intended
Bullies will sometimes try to justify, excuse or mask bullying behaviour by calling it banter. The difference is that banter is fun for everyone; while bullying is not. If someone is calling you out on a joke - it’s not banter anymore.
Getting a friend to laugh at themselves when they’re getting too worked up over their K/D can snap them out of a funk. But if they’re not laughing, it’s time to stop.
The Impact of Cyberbullying
There are countless ways for cyberbullying to occur online, and it affects people in a number of ways.
Victims of cyberbullying are more likely to:
- have mental health concerns, such as feelings of anxiety and depression
- struggle with transition points throughout life, such as starting at a new job or school
- have poor academic performance
- be at high risk of suicide
Cyberbullying is not something to be taken lightly. Taking responsibility for our actions and standing up to bullying behaviour online can save lives.
Common Types of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying occurs in a number of forms, and can be far more sinister than nasty jokes. Being familiar with some of the common types of cyberbullying is an initial step towards being able to identify, stop and prevent it.
Harassment is the type of cyberbullying you are probably most familiar with; it involves the targeting and abuse of a person over the internet, often through insults and shaming.
Fraping is when somebody accesses another person’s device or online account without their knowledge to retrieve personal information, post embarrassing content, or engage in conversations while posing as the victim.
Outing involves the deliberate and public spreading of private information about a person, usually to elicit feelings of embarrassment, shame or fear.
Exclusion is the act of maliciously excluding someone from online communities, activities, or forums. Exclusion can be performed by individuals, but is more often performed by groups.
Catfishing involves the use of a fake online identity used to trick, exploit or extract information from a victim.
Be an Upstander, not a Bystander
Every time we witness an incident of bullying, we have a choice: am I going to be a bystander in this situation, or am I going to take some action to support the victim?
People who choose the latter are called upstanders.
You can support a victim of bullying by:
- taking direct action to stop the bully
- supporting the victim after the incident
- reporting the incident to an appropriate authority
It’s not always appropriate or safe to attempt to stop a bully directly. Fortunately, there are more ways to help victims than picking fights with bullies.
For more information about how to identify, combat, prevent or deal with cyberbullying, check out the list of resources below.
eSafety Commisioner’s Guidelines:
Click below to be directed to resources relevant to your situation:
- Young people experiencing cyberbullying
- Parents of young people experiencing cyberbullying
- Adults experiencing online abuse
The Australian eSafety Guide
A useful place to learn how to protect your information and report inappropriate content in the latest games, apps, and social media platforms.
How to be an Upstander, not a Bystander
A guide for taking action against cyberbullying with links to additional counselling and support services.
Stop Cyberbullying Day
The Cybersmile foundation has a number of reports and resources available to those wanting to learn more about cyberbullying, and those who want to become involved in making a change.