Hi, Lil’ Blue! You’ve made quite a splash these days speaking out about cyberbullying and helping parents understand what young people today are facing. Why is this so important to you?
Lil’ Blue: I’m online pretty much 24/7. I like to chat, skim my social feeds, play with funny filters on Snapchat, do some gaming and watch YouTube. When I’m not actually hanging out with my friends, I’m probably messaging them or even playing online games with them. Most of the time, we’re just having fun and messing around, but sometimes I see or hear some really ugly things. This makes me worry that people feel like they can do or say whatever they want to each other when online, because they think it doesn’t count as much or doesn’t hurt. I wanted to do something about that and help people to understand that it does matter and it does hurt!
That’s very brave of you, Lil’ Blue, and we definitely appreciate how outspoken you are on this important issue. Have you ever personally felt bullied on the internet and what did you do about it?
Lil’ Blue: It’s hard for me to talk about…but yeah, people have said mean things to me and made fun of things I posted. This made me feel really sad, and at first, I was too embarrassed to tell anyone. I felt like it was my fault that people were bullying me and that if I told someone, it would just get worse. But then I learned that there are many people who care and can help me when this happens.
That’s true. There are many people who can help you if you feel bullied. It can be very helpful to talk to your parents, teachers or other adults when you have been hurt or if you feel sad or angry about things that have happened on the internet. What can parents do to make it easier for young people, such as yourself, to be more open about bullying?
Lil’ Blue: Sometimes parents think that they need to fix everything for us. But really, we just need them to listen to us and to talk things through. It doesn’t help when parents get angry or want to yell at the person doing the bullying. I think the most helpful things for parents to do is to ask questions, check in with us and talk with us about what to do.
What about other young people? What can youth today do differently when on the internet to help stop cyberbullying?
Lil’ Blue: I think the most important thing we can do is to think before we post. I always ask myself if what I’m saying or the picture I’m sharing is hurtful or mean to someone else. Since I’ve been bullied, I’m more careful now with both what I say online and how I keep my information safe. If I do get bullied now, I try to stay calm. If I freak out, then I lose control and maybe say nasty things in response, which never improves the situation. So instead, I keep my cool and talk to someone about it. When things get really bad, I can choose to block that person and seek help. I have learned that asking for help is the smartest thing I can do when I’m being bullied. And if I don’t feel like talking to someone I know, I can always talk to a friendly voice on a child helpline.
Thanks for your time, Lil’ Blue. You have some very wise advice for all of us.
Lil’ Blue: You’re welcome! I feel that I’ve learned a lot, and it’s my job now to pass on what I’ve learned to others. Maybe I can help some other kids who are going through some tough stuff and maybe I can even stop someone from posting something that they’ll regret later. We’re all in this together. Let’s put a stop to cyberbullying once and for all!
If you or someone you know is in need of help or support from a Child Helpline, please find the network nearest to you here: https://www.childhelplineinternational.org/child-helplines/child-helpline-network/