In this age of three split screens and social media there are a lot of interesting instant mediums in which we communicate, interact and engage  across the world within the seconds not days or hours but instantly.

(If you don’t believe me you can Tweet at Obama and ask him how social media helped in his campaign for a second term and it will take you all of  probably 35seconds.)

We live in the age now where we have the Ipad and other tablets, we have our mobile phones which are now smartphones and we now have smart TVs that are becoming increasingly the norm and lets not forget we still have our laptops.

However, there are two sides to every coin and sadly even though we can use social media and these snappy multi-screens to make a positive impact and take advantage of electronic word of mouth permitting our customers and fans be our very own army of brand ambassadors so to are there also brand detractors who don’t praise but attack individuals and brands.

These individuals are called Trolls and they live solely to gain the cyber limelight by Cyber Bullying.

So What is  Cyber Bullying?

It is when internet and related technologies are used  in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner to harm other people.

It is particularly common amongst the younger generation now growing up with the internet and social media, and as such legislation and awareness campaigns have been developed to try and combat this growing problem.

The usual battlefields for the usual Trolls include the use of internet services,  mobile phones, web pages, discussion groups, instant messaging and or SMS text messaging.

Is Cyber Bullying New?

Cyber Bullying is not as new as you might think:  Hi5, MySpace, Msn Messnger, Face Party were all  the ancestors that existed before Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube etc. These ancestors were also playgrounds for Trolls and cyber bullies the only difference is now that the multi-screens mixed with  Social Media coming to the forefront and taking a prominent place in our lives has amplified ten times over the dangers of the internet.

This is an infographic on  Understanding the Troll Enemy and how to Controll the Troll.

Who Do these Cyber Bullies Target:

They target vulnerable children and adults from school kids on the playground teasing their classmates via a social network to office politics taking a turn for the worse with office bullying to over zealous trolls taking a shot at celebrities be it footballers, reality T.V stars, Politicians  and even a lot of our favorite Hollywood actors plus everyone in between.

One common denominator in all these scenarios is that people are human and in most cases do get affected by these cyber taunts causing a drop in performance  be it on the pitch,on set , at school, at home or at work  it takes a strong mental prowess to be un-phased by a bout of cyber bullying.

The Cyber Generation Gap Problem

The one problem I see that makes it hard to address the problem of cyber bullying is that law makers, leaders those in position of authority are unavoidably to some measure alien to the online phenomenon of social media and in fact a lot of the online world.

Experienced judges who can preside over a horrific crime aren’t  as conversant in the workings of twittering, leaders  of nations who are apt in the art of promoting peace ,averting wars and looking after the nations well being may find it tricky to navigate the harsh words that a Facebook Group or Page may be hurling at unsuspecting victims.

There was always something I heard during Monday assembly in school which was that ”The youth of Today” are the future of tomorrow and there is no doubt that the children of today will produce the next members of the judiciary and legislative arms of government.

In the same way they will produce the next leaders CEOs and thought leaders and the best thing is that it is these individuals who have grown up with this phenomenon of social media and social networking across various platforms who are going to be the most qualified in understanding, utilizing and tackling issues such as cyber bullying.

Tackling the Bullies HEAD ON

So how do you tackle these bullies the truth is that each case must be assessed on its own merits as there is no one size fits all approach humans are humans and humans being humans are unpredictable therefore there is no one solution however there are measures which can be taken to avoid some of the awful dangers of cyber bullying ranging from a life long lack of confidence to sad and extreme cases of suicide.

Moderator Approach

Social Media Platforms all tend to have moderators who will ban accounts and delete inflammatory and obscene content from their sites in  a case of cyber bullying  this can be your first approach  there is usually a report spam or flag this message option. Moderators themselves are very trigger happy when it comes to these sort of scenarios and this is good because it shows they will not tolerate nonsense on their forums or sites however sometimes they may not be able to immediately provide an instant solution e.g the offending account ban might take up to 48hours or there might be other delays but in most cases the justice is swift and precise as they want an amicable environment for all their visitors.

What About in Schools?

Parents Teachers Headmasters Principals Deans etc please realize that this is an issue that cannot be passed on to someone else yes the generation gap may hamper you too but our children are our responsibilities and that duty carries on even in the face of new technology.

If children are being victims of cyber bullying on cyber networks there needs to be a few systems in place

1.Safe Haven:
How can these victims speak out about what is going on is there a ”suggestion box” in your school if not there should be and there should also be a ”I need to talk box” where students and even teachers who are being victims of this cyber taunts can relay their concerns and feel safe not patronized or a ”yes man/woman” but safe the same way they feel when they know they have an older brother or sister who they can always talk to about anything  this is the system you need in place .

2.Understand the Battlefield:
The war against Cyber bullying is is a new type of war with the same old principles and if you don’t know the battle ground as well as the opponent then your work is cut out for you. Social Media platforms are where its happening and as such this world is what you need to understand if you are going to help those who come into your safe haven for protection. Therefore hiring a social media expert who can help address this problem and at the same time teach the children how to be responsible while they are online and teach the parents and school staff the basics to understanding these battle grounds is a key ingredient to this fight.

In case you haven’t got the idea yet know this cyber bullies tend to be lone keypad warriors whereas those who come to your safe haven instantly have strength in numbers family, school staff, other students etc who will come to the rescue of any victim but if these allies don’t know what or how to help then the numbers count for nothing.

3.Diffusing the Situation:
One important thing to always remember is that  perception and angles of approach go along way in the real offline world and so to in the online world. Very importantly and I cannot stress this enough in a school situation of cyber bullying adding fuel to the fire is NOT the right course of action a heated debate ensuing is all it leads too and makes the Cyber Bully feel validated and grants them an unnecessary cyber lime light which is what they are after. No the right course of action is to rally as a defensive offense to the victim.

Cyber Bully says ”bla bla bla”
Teacher online says ” John we are proud of you and actually so proud that tomorrow in assembly we will show how good you are at …. ”

You have now changed the angle and perception so much so that the target is no longer a victim you are defending online but actually you are going to be highlighting their strengths and each and every student has their own individual talent which gives them confidence from hobbies to academics shower them with praise when they are attacked online and instantly you have diffused the situation by putting the lime light on them reminding them of what they are stars at solidifying the one thing that cyber bully tries to knock the confidence.

There are a number of sophisticated ways to identify cyber bullies from IP addresses to them using their real names the question really is how to address the matter once the bully has been identified this ladies and gentleman parents and guardians teachers and principals is your call. I cannot teach you how to run your school or homes but I can tell you this a bully is always insecure about one thing or the other or dealing with issues of their own so an accusatory approach may not be the best but an understanding not condescending or patronizing in my experience works very well.

Now you have read a lot and I do hope this has been helpful as a basis the subject is so vast and broad that I could literally write a book on this but I hope this post so far has been useful enough. I will also address Cyber Bullying from the point of view of a celebrity as well as that of the work place in later posts.