Cyberbullying must fall
Youth month reminds us of the brutality that our brothers and sisters went through 40 years ago. What happened in South Africa, June 16, 1976 , were young people fighting for nothing more than equal opportunities, for their generation and those to come. The biggest question that is always lingering is this: Are we seeing the opportunities that they fought for? The response is a big “YES”, because youth in South Africa, and all over Africa have a pool of opportunities to choose from . Opportunities are not as limited as they used to be for those with a darker skin tone. We salute and thank those who have lost their lives in order to improve the conditions to what they are today. POWER TO THE YOUTH OF 1976!
The new struggle
The struggle of the South African youth in 1976 may be over, but there are many other negative things that still affect young people in South Africa and the continent of Africa at large, for instance, the ‘abuse’ of social media. Today the struggle of the youth all over Africa takes place on the battleground of the internet, and social media seems to be the weapon of choice. Most young people are being bullied online and this has created a very dark side to social media. Read the effects of cyberbullying and see the direct connection that cyberbullying has to psychological, emotional and physical stress. According to this write-up, victims of this form of bullying are also likely to suffer from low self-esteem. This is really the downfall of living in a digital era, as some people just derive joy from pulling others down.
Can Africa overcome cyberbullying?
We cannot overcome what we do not know exists. What needs to be put in place are systems and institutions to educate the youth about cyberbullying. Ditch The Label, an award-winning agency which has become synonymous with many anti-bullying campaigns around the world, gives 9 effective ways of dealing with cyberbullying.
9 ways of dealing with cyberbullying
- Never respond to anything that has been said or retaliate by doing the same thing back. Saying something nasty back or posting something humiliating in revenge may make matters worse or even get you into trouble.
- Screenshot anything that you think could be cyberbullying and keep a record of it on your computer.
- Block and report the offending users to the appropriate social media platform.
- Talk about it. You may not feel it at the time, but you seriously are not alone. Talking to somebody about bullying not only helps you seek support but it documents evidence and will take a huge weight off your shoulders.
- Assess how serious the cyber bullying is. If it is light name calling from somebody that you don’t know, it may just be easier to just report and block that user.
- Report it. If you are experiencing cyberbullying from somebody you go to school or college with, report it to a teacher. If somebody is threatening you, giving out your personal information or making you fear for your safety, contact the Police or an adult as soon as you can.
- Be private. We recommend that you keep your social media privacy settings high and do not connect with anybody who you do not know offline. People may not always be who they say they are and you could be putting you and those that you care about the most at risk.
- Talk to them. Sometimes it may be appropriate to request that a teacher or responsible adult hosts a mediation between you and the person who is bullying you online if they go to the same school or college as you. A mediation can be scary but is often incredibly powerful. It is essentially a face-to-face conversation between you and the person bullying you in a controlled, equal environment.
- Sympathise. Always remember that happy and secure people do not bully others. People that bully are going through a difficult time themselves and will often need a lot of help and support.
Are there any opportunities on social media for beating cyberbullying?
Social media can be used to relay positivity in the lives of others, such as starting online businesses and running campaigns that improve and change lives. We can also take our ‘best shot’ at cyber bullying by choosing online activities that empower Africa, such as the sharing of valuable information and exchanging of motivational messages.
This is a struggle we can be able to win and talk about 40 years from today, as we reflect on how Africans have positively influenced social media use. I still say, #cyberbullyingmustfall.
Are Africans doing enough to stop Cyberbullying?
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