Cyberbullying: Top tips for staying safe online

New figures show increasing numbers of teachers are facing abuse online. We've put together some tips for social media to help education staff avoid cyberbullying from students, colleagues or parents.

A recent survey by NASUWT found significant numbers of teachers are experiencing abuse online from parents and students. Education professionals should never have to face any kind of abuse, verbal or physical, in person or online. Cyberbullying, or bullying of any kind, can have a huge impact on a person’s self-esteem, confidence in their abilities at work, and may result in serious mental health issues like stress or anxiety.

However, we would advise all education staff to take care when they are online, particularly when using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Here are some top tips:

  1. Think cautiously about what comments and images you post online for peace of mind. Even if your account has basic privacy settings, some messages may still be public if you comment in a public group or shared with friends of friends.
  2. Ensure your social networking profiles have the highest privacy settings. Facebook often updates its privacy settings which may not automatically be updated or applied to your profile, so check your settings regularly. In fact it introduced new settings in January 2015. This is their step-by-step guide and here is a useful guide for Twitter privacy settings.
  3. For extra security, you could also choose an innocuous profile picture and alter your profile name to avoid students or parents searching for you on social media. (Perhaps using your maiden name for married women or using just your first and middle names only without your surname).
  4. You may consider only using social networking sites to connect with close friends and family and use more formal, work-related networking sites such as LinkedIn to connect with colleagues. An alternative could be setting up separate accounts for personal and work-related use.
  5. Check your employer’s social media policy. If they do not have one, ask your managers to introduce one so staff have clear guidelines on what is appropriate behaviour with students, parents and colleagues online.
  6. If you experience any kind of bullying, trolling or inappropriate behaviour towards you online from students, parents or colleagues, you must report it to managers so they can take swift action.
  7. Lastly, bullying of any kind is never nice so seek emotional support from colleagues, friends or family. If you need specialist help, you can speak to one of our trained counsellors by calling our free 24/7 helpline on 08000 562 561.