What can I do if I am experiencing and/or participating in disrespectful online communication?
You may not always recognize teasing as bullying and it isn’t always. You must have a trusting relationship with someone in order to “joke around” with them. It’s also important to remember that two-way disrespectfulness is NOT bullying--it is CONFLICT. You also may be too embarrassed or ashamed to talk to your parents about it because you know you’ve been disrespectful too and you don’t want to get into trouble.
Talk to your parents about online and digital behavior and set some expectations. To prepare for going online or using your cell phone, or, if you’ve had disrespectful communication online, take these steps immediately:
Sign off the computer/phone. Ignore the attacks and/or stop attacking others--walk away.
Don't respond or retaliate. If you're angry or hurt, you might say things you'll regret later. Disrespectful people often want to get a reaction out of you, so don't let them know their plans have worked.
Block the disrespectful person. If you get mean messages through IM or a social-networking site, take the person off your buddy or friends list. You also can delete messages without reading them.
Save and print out disrespectful messages. If the harassment continues, save the evidence. This could be important proof to show parents or teachers if the disrespect doesn't stop.
Talk to the person directly. When someone is disrespectful to you, and you feel safe enough to do so, stand up for yourself and tell them to stop. Telling all your friends and texting back and forth only grows the problem.
Tell a trusted adult. A trusted adult is someone you believe will listen and who has the skills, desire, and authority to help you. Telling an adult isn't being a “nark” or “tattling” -- it's standing up for yourself. There are expectations in and out of school to guard against disrespectful behavior.