As many of you may know, my family and I became victims of cyberbullying recently. The event stemmed from people being upset that I wouldn't allow them to post whatever they wanted to post in several community pages that I admin on Facebook. This lead to a creation of a 'Burton Kelso Sucks' Facebook group with people posting hateful posts as well as sharing personal details about our family such as our home address and leaving negative reviews for my company Integral (www.callintegralnow.com). With many people home and isolated, cyberbullying is on the rise. Here are some tips you can use to stay safe from cyberbullying
Before I list what steps to take, it's important you understand that although most web sites and social media platforms stand up for cyberbullying, it's a hard and sometimes impossible process to get malicious comments taken down. It's this reason that you should always be vigilant about what is being said about you and what information is being shared about you and your family. With that in mind, use these tactics.
1. Limit what personal information you and your kids share online. You never know who is looking for information about you. It could be an old school friend, ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend seeing what you're up to, or someone looking to cause you harm. Google and social media accounts can offer strangers a wealth of information about you and your family's life. When posting on social media, make sure you and your family aren't posting things that can give someone an exact location of where you live and work. It's also a good idea to start the process of limiting your personal information online. Services like DeleteMe (www.joindeleteme.com) and Unrole.com (www.join.unroll.me.com) can help automate the removal process of you and your family information online.
2. Always monitor your kids' devices so you can see what they are doing online. There is no one solution that fits all for parental controls, which is why it's important to view the activity. There are plenty of parental control apps online, but none of them can keep up with the continuous wave of new apps and websites kids gravitate to. Also, no parental control app can see what your kids are chatting about in the chatrooms of social media and gaming sites. A daily or weekly check lets you know what information they are sharing if they are being bullied, or if an online predator is grooming them to meet face to face.
3. Beware of 'doxing' where people attempt to find personal information about you and share it with the online community. Doxing is the practice of cyberbullies looking up and sharing your home and office location with people online for malicious intent. Obviously the aim is to put you on alert, but taken to a higher level doxing can be a means where cyberbullies and their followers have a way to harass you in the real world. Doxing is illegal, so if this is happening you, report it to the local authorities immediately. Also, watch out for 'swatting' where online harassers try to get law enforcement to show up at your residence.
4. Sign up for Google Alerts so you can keep track of what is being said about you and your family. Google Alerts is free with every Google account. Just visit, www.google.com/alerts, and set up alerts for yourself and other family members. You can set up your own schedule for alerts, but using the power of Google you can keep a constant lookout of things that are being posted about you or your loved ones online.
5. Take quick steps to block people from your social media accounts if you find yourself being bullied. Consider changing social media accounts to private or invitation online. If you have younger children in your household, you will want to hold off letting them get on any social media account until they are 16 or 17. If you or your loved ones are being bullied. Take steps to block the bully and anyone else is supporting the bully. Every social media platform has a way to block your profile from anyone harassing you. If the bullying is too problematic, you can also change the name on your accounts to an Alias to make it harder for the bullies to find you. You can make your accounts private accounts that are only viewable by close friends and family. You also want to take steps to make sure your profile doesn't show up with a simple Google search.
Cyberbullying is a serious problem that affects families every day. If you and your loved ones take the previous steps, you can be prepared if bullies come knocking and know that your personal lives stay private and limit any damage online creepers can do to you and your family.
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