Cyberbullying is the term used to describe bullying that occurs through technology-based forms of communication. As the use of text messaging, email and social networking sites continue to rise in popularity, so do the incidents of cyberbullying. Parents that educate themselves and their children on the warning signs and dangers of cyberbullying can help to prevent the emotional distress that occurs with this form of bullying.
Editorial: Why cyber bullying and other online dangers must be tackled head-on
Bullying someone online is particularly nefarious as it does not take place in a public space, meaning the victim is left to suffer in silence.
Yes, parents or teachers can become aware and intervene, but it is largely left to those on the receiving end to decide how to deal with the problem.
As this is often a child, it places them in an anxious situation they are not equipped to deal with.
Children now have access to mobile phones and smart devices from an increasingly early age.
If parents and schools can come together under voluntary agreements to not give them phones until they have finished primary school that would certainly have merit.
At the very least, it would prevent the domino effect of other classmates having a phone and the pressure to conform that that brings. Confirmation at the end of sixth class tends to provide an independent source of funds, though, and phones are high on the wish list. The CyberSafeKids Annual Trends and Usage Report shows a quarter of primary school children have experienced cyber bullying, but it gets worse when they get to second level.
In secondary school, two in five pupils will be targeted, with girls more likely than boys to be victimised.
The survey shows a growing number of children are allowed online on their devices whenever they want.
Disturbingly, children are also vulnerable to contact from people they do not know. Gaming with strangers is now commonplace.
The online service providers and technology companies these children are using are making billions in profits and yet it is left to charities to pick up the pieces of the damage being done.
In particular in this country, where so many of the tech giants have their European headquarters, the revenue coming in surely justifies adequate funding for research, awareness and campaigning.
The internet is a fantastic resource that helps us to learn, share, communicate and find entertainment. It has billions of users who use it for legitimate reasons. However, there are others who use the internet for illegal and unsavoury purposes.
There are several dangers that we might come across when online:
Taking simple precautions can help to reduce or prevent exposure to such dangers.Malware
Malware (short for malicious software) are programs that install and run on your computer without your knowledge or consent. Malware is often downloaded from email attachments or websites that are not properly protected. Some websites are designed to trick you into downloading and installing malware. Once installed, malware usually (but not always) causes harm to the computer or user by deleting data or gaining access to personal information.
Some malware is designed to copy itself and spread to other computers via email attachments that are sent from the infected computer. This type of malware is known as a virus. Another type of malware spies on users’ activities, usually to steal financial details and passwords. This type of malware is known as spyware. Other types of malware include trojans and zombies.
Once infected, it can be difficult to rid a computer of malware. Special programs called anti-virus software are required to clean malware off a computer.
You might receive emails from someone pretending to be someone you know. The emails are designed to trick you into giving away personal information, such as your usernames and passwords. For example, an email might appear to be sent from a social media website. It might say that a password needs resetting, and might provide a link to reset it. The link would lead to a fake website which looks exactly like the real site. This site will capture your details, allowing an unsavoury character access to your accounts.
Phishing emails are often quite easy to spot. Although at first glance they may look very much like a genuine email from a company or website, on closer examination they often contain spelling or grammatical errors. Always remember that it is rare that a website will genuinely send you an email asking for your username and password.