According to new research at the headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation in Australia, more than a third of young people have repeatedly encountered someone spreading negative rumours about them on the Internet. It may have been accompanied by the writing of negative and angry comments on their pages. This study was timed to coincide with the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence. It once again showed and confirmed the danger of such a phenomenon online as cyberbullying, which can have severe social and psychological consequences.

According to the headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation press center, the study also uncovered that one in two young people had been cyberbullied in their lifetime. That alarming percentage has remained unchanged since 2018. Simultaneously, one in four people has even encountered attempts to threaten to harm them directly on the Internet.

As The Daily Campus newspaper noted, many people use social media anonymity features specifically to send negative messages or just troll people for various reasons, as the Internet space today is full of trolls. Because of the pandemic, most of our activity is online, also reaching an increase in cyberbullying online. Of course, cybersecurity experts are considering different options on reducing the possibility of bullying people online to make the Internet safer for different categories of people, including social networks.

Still, it is a long and complicated process.

Meanwhile, based on all the results of a recent study so far, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation has launched a new "bullying isn't banter" campaign that aims to create a safe online environment for all youth.

Why do people become trolls?

Research by the headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation has shown that anyone can become a troll in certain situations.

If the person is in a lousy mood, reacting to what other trolls post and being anonymous online can affect how one participates in online discussions.

Researchers cite several reasons why people choose to troll online. Some people like upsetting and angering other people, and the more attention their negative comments get, the more they enjoy it psychologically.

Others choose to troll because the anonymity of the net suits them: they can afford to say things they wouldn't be able to speak face to face. Simultaneously, most of these people don't think about the real impact their negative posts can have on people's well-being and lives. Such consequences are sometimes highly unpredictable and fatal.

Tips for parents

The program "bullying isn't banter" provides several tips for parents to create a safer online environment for teens:

1. Get informed. Familiarize yourself with the warning signs (on the campaign website) that you should pay attention to when you start a conversation.

2. Constantly talk to teens about their online experience. It can include questions about the websites they use and what they like and help them know that they can always turn to adults for help and support if they encounter any negative situations online.

3. Take experiences of cyberbullying seriously. Attend to their concerns and support them in reporting the incident to the platform, gathering proof, asking for additional help from an eSafety designee, getting involved in the school or workplace etc.

4. Learn about the available technology. Find out what extra features are built into each platform that helps people feel safe on the Internet and help your teen learn how to use them.

5. Periodically checking in about their experiences can help to take action earlier.