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Press delete on online harassment and bullying

With Musical.ly, Snapchat, Instagram and more (and let's not forget GirlsLife.com 😉) the digital space is a very cool place to be. You can meet people from across the world at the click of your mouse and that is ridiculously amazing. The flipside to being able to meet anyone online though is that, in some cases, those people are not who they say they are and/or don't always have the best intentions. So how do you recognize these online bullies and fakes in a sea of Insta likes and retweets?

Recognize it as online harassment

Just because it's not in person, doesn't mean it's not wrong. It's important to see that whatever negative comments other users are making toward you online aren't your fault. If someone is saying negative things about your pictures or posts, asking personal questions and it's making you feel uncomfortable, be aware that that is harassment, and that it's wrong. 

Tell your parents

So tattling isn't cool, but in this case, it's perfectly OK. Sure, you might feel uncomfortable telling your parents, but they care more about you and your safety than the opinion of someone on the internet. If you really don't feel great about talking to your parents about online bullying, talk to a trusted teacher, coach or guidance counselor—they'll know what to do.

Document it

Take pictures (or screen cap/shot), save comments and keep any messages that this person has sent you. No, you shouldn't keep them as bullying souvenirs, but you should save the communication as evidence. If it gets to a point where parents, your school or the website has to be involved, they'll see exactly what was happening and know best how to stop it. 

Avoid using any online forum as your diary

Sure, it's great to have somewhere to vent, and in the age of vlogs, Snapchat and Instagram stories, it can be tempting to share everything with your loyal crew of followers, but blasting details of your personal life to strangers isn't such a safe thing to do. Instead of using online forums as a diary, try an old-school paper diary or a Word document. Heck, even use the Notes app on your phone. This way, no one can access your personal information. 

Block bullies and don't engage with them

It's tempting to defend yourself against unfair comments online, but don't engage! If bullies can't contact you, they'll be more likely to move on and leave you alone. If it's not possible to block them and they keep messaging you, follow our next piece of advice... 

Report harassment to the website

If you're having trouble with another user on a website, the team who run said website is usually happy to intervene. They don't want to see others being bullied just as much as you don't want to be the one being bullied. (Psst: Here at GL, if you feel uncomfortable with something on our site, send us a message and we'll help you out.)

Show your support for those who have been digitally bullied or harassed in the comments below. If you are currently being harassed or bullied online, take action now.

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by Emily Cavanagh | 1/17/2017
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