As a teen therapist, it’s alarming how many teens, especially girls, come into my office with horrific stories about being bullied online. So many teens come in hurt, feeling powerless to stop the harassment and bullying they receive on social media. It has even driven some teens to commit suicide. The fact of the matter is, you aren’t powerless, there are steps you can take to limit online bullying.
1. Don’t respond: When someone says something mean or hurtful to us, our automatic reaction is to defend ourselves or to be mean back. This is a classic bullying trap. The reason someone says something mean to us is to get us to react. When we react we fulfill their wish! So don’t even engage with the person if they are being mean to you.
2. Realize you are in control: If someone says something mean about you or your friends an easy thing to write is “Sorry, I don’t engage in negative talk with other people so I’m not going to respond or I have to delete your comment.” Remember, you are always in control of how you respond to someone and social media apps give you the ability to control the things that are on your profile.
3. Kill em with kindness: Nothing throws a person off, who is trying to be mean, like saying something nice back to them. Them:”You’re an idiot!” You: “I really like your profile picture, you have a nice smile.” Now they might keep coming back at you with mean things, but how does it look to other people when they view what’s going on? You come off as nice, and they come off as rude and mean.
4. Delete your apps: I know what you’re saying. NO WAY! NOT GONNA DO IT JEREMY. I get it, social media is your social connection. The key question is this: Is it doing more harm than good? When you get off of Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter, do you feel good about yourself or do you feel terrible about who you are and what people are saying to you? If you answered yes to that, it may be time to delete your apps. No app is worth those terrible thoughts and feelings. No person deserves to be bullied. You can delete the app and stop the bullying at once.
5. Choose your friends wisely: This may be the most important one. The people we choose to befriend on social media should be chosen wisely. The Bible gives us blueprints for whom we should make a part of our lives. Do they practice the fruits of the spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control? Or do they tear others down, make fun of people, try to get others to fight, say hateful things or cause drama? So many teens get surprised at how easy it is to get sucked into becoming the very thing they detest, a bully. Don’t let the crowd turn you into a bully, when you yourself know the pain it causes.
The fact of the matter is that cyber bullying happens, but you don’t have to be the victim of it. I always tell my teens this word of advice in the counseling room, “You can’t control what someone else does to you, but you can control how you respond to them.” Your real power is in who you surround yourself with, how you do or don’t respond and what actions you do to keep yourself safe. Remember, no one deserves to be bullied or made fun of, but if you find yourself in that position, choose to not be a victim.
Questions: Have you ever been bullied? Which one of the choices above would have helped combat that challenging situation? Comment below, we’d love to hear your opinion.
Challenge: If you’re being bullied we challenge you to reach out to a friend, a youth pastor, or parents. Don’t suffer in silence. We would love to connect you to counselor who can help you walk through this challenging time. Click here to find a counselor: