Ask fm: recreating the school yard online

… and this time there’s no teachers to intervene.

School yard bullying by theirhistory on Flickr

 The classic image of bullying: a group of children in a school yard picking on the smaller/fatter/geekier/poorer/glasses and braces kid (delete as appropriate).

The one smidgen of hope a bullied child has at the moment they’re surrounded by a group of their leering peers is that a teacher will notice and put a stop to it.

The taunts come from the groups hive like mind, jeers all along the same theme.

Now let’s bring bullying into the 21st Century. Let’s put it online and let’s make it anonymous.

That child, the one that’s being bullied, is no longer face to face with people they know and see every day.

The bullied child is alone, in a bedroom, with a laptop or smart phone.

They don’t know who is on the other end of that question. Could it be someone from school? How about the boy down the road? Maybe it’s someone who is supposed to be a friend. Maybe they’re the other side of the world, they don’t know you, all they know is how worthless a human being you are….

Where’s the teacher’s pet running to tell tales now?

Where are the teachers?

Something which started by passing a note in class, moved onto Facebook with the more transparent “Inbox me a question and I’ll answer it on my profile”, has suddenly grown into the monster under your bed – you don’t know what it looks like but you know it’s out there.

And it’s not just children and teenagers who are falling victim to cyber bullying; bullies and trolls will target anyone. It’s not always personal, but to the victim it’s always personal.

Why do people put themselves through it?

Simply, it’s gratifying.

A boy in your class could say they have a crush on you, or a stranger could say you look good (grooming and sexting are a different matter entirely, but not unrelated when dealing with teens and social media).

We want to express ourselves and the best way to do that seems to be online.

So what can be done?

The websites:

  1. Take away the ability to be anonymous
  2. Make it easier to report bullying
  3. Work closer with police to bring about convictions

Parents:

  1. Know which websites your children are on and check their privacy settings
  2. Make yourself aware of what happens on these websites
  3. Talk openly to your children about bullying – let them know it’s never their fault

Teachers and youth workers:

  1. Show teenagers why e-safety is important – what are the consequences?
  2. Let them know they can come to you for advice and support
  3. Make sure your privacy settings are up to scratch so you don’t become a target

Report, block and report again

If you become a target for cyber bullying, don’t let it get you down. You’re not alone and there are people who can help.

  1. Report the user to the site
  2. Block them (if possible)
  3. Report it to the police (screengrabs of the user’s profile and any comments they’ve posted about you will help)
  4. Talk to someone, a trusted friend, parent, the Samaritans or ChildLine
  5. If it becomes too much, delete your account and start afresh.

Bullying it gets better by mistressoftheroses on deviantart.com

So you’ve got Likes, so what?

Photo by Denis Dervisevic

How many times have you heard the phrase “we need more Likes” or have seen a tweet asking people to “help us reach x amount of followers”?

Too many people are under the misconception that the number of Likes equates to the amount of success you have.

Whilst it looks good to have 5000 Likes on your Facebook page, how many of those users are actually taking in your messages or engaging?

Information overload

Like the average Millennial, I get my daily dose of information from a variety of social networks, websites and applications. I use Facebook differently to Twitter. I use my Twitter accounts in different ways. I don’t even bother opening Sulia or LinkedIn unless something catches my interest in their daily emails.

In the information age, there is too much information being thrown at you by everyone… so we’ve started to become selective.

Hiding posts from certain people or Pages on Facebook (well you don’t want to insult them by Unliking or de-friending)

Unfollowing on Twitter (it appears we’re more ruthless in 140 characters or less)

Selectively scanning through our feeds until something catches our eye (usually a video of a cat)

So what does this really mean?

If you want to catch our attention do something creative or innovative. Stand out from the crowd. Ask us what we want to see. Give us something we never thought we’d see from you. Make it relevant.

It’s not about you, it’s about the user

Ask yourself these questions:

“are we engaging with the followers we already have?”

“how are our followers responding to our content?”

“is it being shared?”

Answering these questions and making changes to the way you try and engage your audience will inevitably result in more follows, Likes, Pins etcetera, it may even boost your Klout score… but that’s not what this article is about.

It’s about engaging

Make the most of the people who have actively searched for your Facebook Page or Twitter account and want to hear what you have to say – they’re the ones who can help you build your audience.

And for the love of all things social, don’t buy followers!