We know from our research that up to 7 in 10 young people experience cyberbullying before the age of 18. Cyberbullying comes in many different forms and is something that is totally subjective to the recipient. At Ditch the Label, we define cyberbullying as the following: “Cyberbullying is the use of digital technologies with an intent to offend, humiliate, threaten, harass or abuse somebody.”
A common form of cyberbullying is in-game abuse (harassment from other gamers whilst in online mode). Dealing with bullying in a game and in-game abuse can be extremely upsetting, distressing and draining – and it also spoils what is a very enjoyable hobby!
It is often hard to identify the appropriate course of action to take to address and improve the situation. With this in mind, we have compiled a short list of things you should and shouldn’t do if you are at the receiving end of in-game abuse. Happy gaming and GG!
1. Don’t respond with aggression.
Often reacting in an aggressive manner can make the situation worse and can put you at risk of further abuse. If you feel it is a safe and appropriate action to take, maybe try calmly communicating with the person who is doing the cyberbullying. Remember to challenge the behaviour, not the person – so instead of accusing the person of being a ‘bully’, explain why their actions or words are causing you distress. For example, instead of saying “you’re upsetting me”, you could say “what you said/did has upset me”. If the bullying still persists after taking this action, see point 2.
2. Do block/report the person that is cyberbullying you.
You can block and report the users who are bullying you at any time – remember that these options are in place to support and protect gamers from abuse. The type of gaming environment you are in will determine which course of action is best to take. Speak with other gamers and check your headset to see if you can activate options to mute/disable audio chat and turn off the screen text. You could also contact the game administrators or moderators and report the user.
3. Don’t have your personal information available.
We recommend that you keep your privacy settings high and do not connect with anybody who you do not know offline. People may not always be who they say they are and you could be putting yourself and those that you care about at risk. Never give away personal details like your full name, telephone, address etc to someone you have not met offline either. If somebody is exhibiting threatening behaviour, or has your personal information and is giving you the impression that your safety might be at risk, contact the police or a trusted adult immediately.
4. Don’t take it personally.
Remember that the person who is abusing you in-game is the one with the issue, not you. More importantly, remember that it is very likely they don’t even know you! What you are experiencing is in no way your fault; people experience bullying not because of their sexuality, gender identity, race, appearance, disability or any other unique factor; it is because of the attitude towards the factor. The only thing possible to change is attitudes – you are perfect the way you are.
5. Don’t seek revenge.
Gandhi once said, “An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” Think about the repercussions of your actions – what can really be gained by seeking revenge? You might even get yourself in trouble with the game’s moderators. It is far better to save yourself from the possibility of further trauma and focus on the good things in your life. Look at how you can move forward in a positive way, putting the person who is cyberbullying you firmly in the past.
6. Don’t isolate yourself from friends and family.
A common, sometimes unconscious reaction to being bullied is to shut down and withdraw from your loved ones. We begin to distance ourselves both emotionally and physically from the very people we need support from.
Depriving yourself of any sort of support or friendship certainly won’t do anything to resolve the issue. We know it might feel like the best thing to do, but it will only make things worse in the long run by silencing you and reducing your self-esteem. Try to keep up with your normal social life and activities you enjoy – the distraction if anything, will help lift your spirits and remind you of the positive things in your life.
7. Do tell someone.
Even if you don’t want to report it, it is important you share with someone what you are going through – you shouldn’t go through something like this alone as it is extremely stressful, and can be emotionally draining to endure bullying. This stress can have an impact on all areas of your life, including your mental wellbeing, ability to communicate with others, performance in school, self-esteem and confidence. It is therefore incredibly important that you tell somebody you trust about what you are going through; it doesn’t even have to be an adult – it could be a friend or somebody at Ditch the Label. It is vital, during this time, that you have a support system and people who you can rely on when you are feeling low, or unable to cope.
8. Do keep a record.
Keeping a record of all interactions with griefers (a player who deliberately harasses or irritates other players) is very important. Be vigilant from the beginning and screenshot anything offensive. This is your evidence when talking with game administrators. You have a responsibility to yourself and other gamers – you never know who you might inadvertently be protecting from future abuse by being proactive right now.
9. Do take some time out.
When you are very immersed in a game it can feel all-consuming – in a good way! However, when an unexpected griefer is thrown into the mix, it can quickly become a very negative and overwhelming experience.
Maybe take some time out, step away from the game and remove the cause of stress. Give yourself a chance to see things a little clearer – that way you can decide what the best plan of action is.
It is important during this time, that you remember to take good care of your health and mental wellbeing. Little things like eating a balanced diet, exercising, getting a good night’s sleep, relaxing and having quality time with friends and family can really improve physical and mental health, which will, in turn, reduce stress. Reductions in stress increase your clarity of vision, allowing you to better analyse difficult situations, which will make them much easier to deal with.
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