Risks online- cyber bullying and fake identities

Childline explains that cyber bullying (also called ‘online bullying’) is “when a person or a group of people uses the internet, email, online games or any other kind of digital technology to threaten, tease, upset or humiliate someone else.” That is one of the many risks online but surely it’s extremely serious. There are a lot of sites where people can read about how to stop cyberbullying and take due precautions. First step it taking safe measures like make your social networking profiles private and not accept people that you don’t know in real life. Next, always remember that the ‘block’ button exists and you can block anyone who annoys or bullies you. No matter if someone talks abusive about you in real life or online it still hurts. It may lead to lower self-esteem and even cases when people wanted to end their lives exist. At the end of the day you may ask yourself “why is this person acting like that?, Why is he bullying me online?”. Truth is, online you can be whoever you want. You can talk nasty about people and think that there will be consequences because it is not face-to-face. Internet empowers people and they feel invincible. What they don’t understand is that their words and actions online may have consequences offline. How to stop it? There are a few things you can do:

  • report bullying and the account of the person will be deleted
  • delete the person and ensure by doing so that he will never be able to get in touch with you
  • try to talk to the person and understand why he does it. Maybe he has serious problems and bullying others online makes him feel better.

I have spoken about Catfish in a previous post but this time I will look at it more deeply.

The TV show has 2.5 million viewers in its return, “winning the day in its sought-after 12-34 demographic.” It has such a big rating among this demographic because when a person is young he is more likely to face the ‘catfish’ phenomenon. By creating fake profiles on social networking sites, these predators trick people into thinking that they are someone else entirely. They choose a random person’s photos, create an imaginary friend list and pick jobs that they wish they had in real life. Some people do it because they are too shy to speak in person or because they don’t like their looks. Others, for more selfish reasons like revenge or to steal someone’s money.

Long story short: This woman had 2 failed marriages, but still believed in love so she decided to join a dating website. There she met a “really good looking guy” who said he was a widower. They started talking on the phone and she developed feelings about him. At one point, he asked her to send him money and so she did, because she was in love with him. They’ve actually never met and over a period of time she has sent him over 1,4 million dollars. Now, every reasonable person will think that this is an online scam and this person is not who pretend he is, but this woman truly believes that he is telling the truth and his stories are legit. The UK financial website of the year, www.thisismoney.com  revealed a list of the top 10 online scams. Number 5 is dating scam that “involves the befriending of a victim over social networking or chat rooms and, after a relationship is struck, they use emotive reasons to persuade the victim to send money.” It may sound unbelievable that there are people who fall for this type of scam but if a person finds his “soulmate” or believes he has, he is willing to do everything to make his partner feel him better. Even if that means sending him over a million dollars. In most cases, individuals must look critically at people they meet online and rarely trust them. Moreover, after they have been a victim to cyber crime change their behavior for the better and try to help other people who might be facing the same problem.


Does social media bring families together or tear them apart?

Because when families disconnect from the internet, they connect.

As it can be observed in this video Dolmio has invented a Pepper Hacker- a tool that shuts down Wi-Fi signal and TV to help bring families together. Now stop for a second and think- how addicted to technology have we become if we can’t spare an hour to have dinner with our family? And is browsing the Internet more important than spending time with the people you love? Probably not.

I will repeat something that I’ve written previously in the blog- Internet has conquered our daily life. The first thing we do when we wake up is not to brush our teeth but to check our cell phone, we do it when we eat our breakfast or lunch, as well as while we are having dinner. We have forgotten how to enjoy family time and this time I’m not only talking about teenagers, but parents too. “Children complain that they don’t have their parents full attention” comments Sherry Turkle. Adults are always busy with writing e-mails or reading the news that sometimes they end up ignoring their own children. I believe this video illustrates my point flawlessly.

On the other hand, social media can be useful for parent because it allows them to follow their kids and know exactly what they are doing. Of course, there are privacy settings that can authorize only certain people to see posts or photos but not all teenagers are aware of that. There are hundreds of stories for parties that have been shut down before they have even begun, just because a parent saw his child’s updated status saying: “my parents are on a vacation. party 2night at my place”. Facebook is a powerful controlling tool, indeed. Not only mom and dad can reveal their kid’s location but also they can understand who is accompanying him, what is the plan for the night and other information that they may not need to receive. Of course, social media and apps like Skype and Viber don’t have only disadvantages. They are a great way for parents to interface with children who study in a different city or country. Children can keep them informed all the time, send them videos , pictures and make their parents miss them less.

To summarise, technology is something amazing that is developing each day. It gives us thousands of opportunities to share and communicate and it is up to us to use it wisely. Will social media unite a family or draw it apart depends on its members. Young people need to remember to call their parents often when they are away, but to put down the phone and enjoy the time they spend together. The same goes for adults, those texts and e-mails can wait.