Impact of online bullying and personal safety

Different platforms require different levels and layers of log in and personal details to use them. Identifying yourself through your name or variations of your name can make you highly visible with other details that might be present about you in the internet. An understanding of how search engines work and how personal information can be hidden or very obvious is important. It is important for individuals to understand that the details that you write / post online are visible to others who have different types of relationships wth you. Your interests give you away in terms of the type of activities or sites that you visit. Your sequence of posts can give you away from the way that you write and the emotional tone or content that you use. Others too have the ability to go back through and read through old posts that you have written and learn more information about you from periods of old interactions on your account versus how you are representing yourself now. Details such as which country you are in and the types of sites that you are posting on can give away your geographic location within that state or within that city. Some countries allow you to search for individuals and will bring up personal details and their exact location. Photographs that individuals post can contain details hidden within backgrounds which provide others with significant quantities of information which they can link together.

For some students the need for online interaction is enormous because they don’t have access to others in the real world. There is a sense of physical safety in this which can lead an individual to post information which they think will never have an impact in their every day world. When you occupy your time with online interactions over a long period all of the details add up. Keeping a running inventory in your head is important so that you can keep track of what was posted and where it was posted. Personal details such as birthdays should be kept hidden.

When defaming content is not able to be removed from the internet or from chat boards hidden within different platforms it is important to talk through physical safety. When others read online material it has an impact in the individuals real world. Students may be concerned about someone coming and talking to them or confronting them and continuing the bullying in physical form. Discussion of what are safety protocols about when police are involved and who the adults are who need to know what is happening. The impact of the bullying for some students when coupled with other school issues can result in them feeling like they never want to go physically near that school again. Being aware of how triggering certain phrases or locations or topics can be for some individuals is important in knowing how to interact with them related to any PTSD symptoms. Some students feel forced into home schooling or forced into only being able to experience opportunities in certain ways in order to protect themselves from bullying online and in the real world. Students are exposed to topics that link with human rights within the school curriculum across a range of areas both in primary and high school. It is important to be familiar with what the laws are and what strategies for communicating experiences are to support comprehension for others of the level of detail that has happened as it impacts significantly on the every day choices that the individuals make and how they regulate themselves. A choice to not include themselves in certain tasks or environments may appear as being socially disinterested whereas it may represent a strong need to protect themselves and to not talk about it in any detail so that they are not forced into other situations or made to discuss it in a way that could be overwhelming for them. Some students then become stuck in the limbo of home or online schooling but wanting to participate in a regular classroom.

 

Separating out active physical safety can be extremely important during times of significant immediate distress. Are you in physical danger immediately from what has been happening online? How quickly is danger likely to come? Is it something that will happen when you go to school next or is it something where you are then waiting til the next time you log in online to see what others have posted about you? Has the information / incidents that have been happening online included your personal physical location? Are those who live with you aware of what is happening?? Who are the normal appropriate people to involve e.g. police, ambulance.