Are Your Kids Getting Cyber Bullied?

Todd Drake | Founder, ManageUrID

We all know what bullying is. It’s when your kid gets the books knocked out of his arms or shoved in a locker. Cyberbullying is not as easy to spot. The perpetrators are often anonymous. And instead of attacking your body, the assaulters focus on humiliation. These types of attacks may not leave any physical scars, but they can be far more harmful. Some children even end up committing suicide. Cyberbullying is a serious issue, and, as a responsible adult, you need to protect yourself and your family. Here is a guide on the best steps to prevent cyberbullying online. Services like ManageUrID can be a major help.

(ManageUrID is a service that can help you combat cyberbullying by keeping your info offline. Learn more here).

Take a Look Around

Cyberspace can be a virtual wonderland that comes with new experiences and online friends. Before you go into any virtual area, you need to understand which areas are safe and which come with risks. Here are a few places that you might want to explore, and some of the dangers associated with them.

  • Facebook and Twitter – These social networking sites can provide instant popularity by allowing anyone online to friend or follow you. That also means that you will need to be extra careful about the types of information you reveal in your status updates and pictures. While Facebook has ways to limit your profile information to only friends, you also may not know who are the people behind the Facebook pictures and end up friending someone with evil intentions.
  • Online Game Sites – Your children go online to have fun and play a few games. Don’t expect that because it’s a fun place to be that you are safe there from cyber bullying.  Online game sites can also make it easy for a person to disguise who they really are by picking an avatar like a small child. You might think you are talking to one type of person and you are really talking to a different one altogether. Be very careful friending people online, even when the site is just for fun and games.
  • Bulletin Boards – Bulletin boards and forums can be places where bullies go to spread rumors and gossip online. School bulletin boards can have all your child’s friends neatly in one place, making them easier to target.
  • Email Accounts – Once a bully has your email account password, they can impersonate you online and send messages from your account to your friends saying nasty things or telling embarrassing lies about you.
  • YouTube – The fact that cell phones now come with video cameras that can be used to capture photos where you are being bullied to post online and increase your sense of humiliation is a sad truth. Also, you have to be very careful about what pictures and videos you allow your friends to take or you might suddenly find it posted for the world on YouTube, without your permission.

How to Control Your Space

With so many electronic opportunities to steal your private information and use it against you, it becomes important to learn how to control your online space to reduce the possibility of it being used to cyberbully you. Before you decide to post anything in your status feed, upload a photo, or chat with someone online, ask yourself this question:

“Would I want everyone to see this piece of information I am about to share?”

If the answer is no, then you probably don’t want to share that information online, either. The best way to to be safe is to simply not reveal personal information it in the first place.

Real Life Dangers

A status update as innocent as suggesting that you are at the mall looking at shoes, instead of at home, can be an invitation for someone to use that time to visit your house knowing that you are away. The fact is that being friendly online comes with risks – more than you might imagine. A virtual friendship is not a real friendship, and shouldn’t be treated as one. Avoid the temptation to give out real personal life details and/or share secrets online. Do not post embarrassing pictures that others can share widely. Always assume that the person on the other end of the site could be someone they say they are not.

How Cyberbullies Gain Access To Your Private Information

Did you know that information brokers, analytical companies and others are routinely compiling vast amounts of your personal information (names, addresses, phone numbers, voting, divorce and legal records, political views, financial history and lots more) for the exclusive purpose of selling your information on the Internet to virtually anyone without your knowledge or permission? These sites are where cyberbullies get all their information to target their prey.

“Imagine! In a just few clicks a cyberbully can find everything they want to know about you!

This is a serious issue with many having been victimized already. So, what can we do about this at both individual and organizational levels? The only practical solution is to remove your personal information from these sites.

There’s lots of good advice out there, such as:

  • Don’t use your actual name on the Internet;
  • Never give out personal information like phone numbers or physical addresses;
  • Don’t send sensitive information from a personal computer;
  • Remove personal information from social media accounts;
  • Clear cookies and browser cache on a regular basis; and
  • Countless suggestions regarding safe email usage, etc.

Remove Your Private and Personal Information from People-Finder Sites

At the end of the day, while all of this is useful and well intended, the only practical solution is to remove your personal information from these sites. But, that task is easier said than done.

The unfortunate reality is that removing personal information from these sites is intentionally convoluted and difficult.

The best way to deal with this growing problem is to protect yourself by removing your information online either manually as I suggested in this article or through a service like ManageURiD. Our data privacy company will remove the information for you automatically from the people finder sites that cyberbullies commonly use to access your private information.

Protecting your personal information in an online world can seem never ending, but it is a very necessary process for individual and family safety. ManageUrID makes it that much easier.

Todd Drake is the founder of ManageUrID, a personal privacy protection company with decades of information security and proper management of sensitive consumer data experience. Additionally, Todd has more than 25 years experience building and running technology companies in the advanced analytics and data mining software industry and extensive data privacy experience. In the past, Todd provided the government investigative solutions that enabled agencies to locate people, detect fraud, uncover assets, verify identity, perform due diligence and visualize complex relationships – solutions that were used by more than 3,000 agencies to help enforce laws and regulations, fight fraud, waste and abuse and provide essential citizen services. Todd also worked in senior capacities with organizations and major federal agencies with data-intensive mandates in areas such as intelligence, security, finance, health care, homeland security, crime and fraud prevention. And he served as a senior systems consultant for the Department of Defense and the U.S. Navy, with deployments to the Persian Gulf in support of intelligence analysis operations. 

Contact Todd Drake

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