There is a reason why your online activity is called a digital tattoo—it stays with you for life! Every single thing you post, like, share and comment online is digitally tattooed. People often spend weeks, months or years considering what to tattoo onto their skin, but we so often post online without consideration. The internet awesome—it can offer fun, entertaining, educational and social services at the click of a button. But it’s important that we remember it can also be a scary place.
Be aware of some of the scary stuff that can take place online. One of the biggest issues facing young people online today is Cyberbullying. It’s happening everyday and it’s terrible. Once you send something out online it is out forever—so let’s try to send nothing but kindness instead.
Cyberbullying is beyond mean and it can follow you for life. Although it can take many forms, some of the most common forms of Cyberbullying are:
- Writing blogs/posts that ridicule or insult someone else
- Sending mean or threatening messages
- Sharing gossip or secrets about someone online
- Sharing someone’s personal photos without their permission
- Hacking into someone’s email or social media account to post hurtful material
- Excluding someone from online networks
When I was in school, cyberbullying didn’t exist so this is all new to me. But I remember bullies at school doing the same sort of activities, just in person or through notes. Being bullied hurts and it’s never okay. If you are being bullied online or in person, please talk to an adult you trust or to your friends.
Peer pressure is tough and sometimes we get pressured into acting in ways we wouldn’t normally act. When I was 12, I was peer-pressured into stealing and sharing my friends personal diary. Twelve years later, it is still the worst thing I have ever done and I still feel terrible for hurting my friend.
It’s important to remember that if you hurt someone online, it’s still bullying and it will cause them pain. You cannot ERASE your digital tattoo. If you engage in cyberbullying, those mean acts will forever exist online. Trust me; you wouldn’t tattoo something mean on someone’s skin so don’t tattoo it online.
Cyberbullying isn’t the only issue facing young people online. Another important issue is sending photos. I love taking a good “selfie” — who doesn’t? Sending photos between your friends is fun and usually harmless, but it’s important to remember that once you send a photo out (text, Facebook, Snapchat etc.) it’s out of your control. It’s wrong (and illegal) to send and share someone’s photos without their permission, but it still happens regularly—cue cyberbullies.
One way to protect yourself when you want to send a photo is to ask, “Would I care if everyone saw this?” If the answer is no, then you may want to reconsider sharing the photo. Until we can tackle the problems of cyberbullying, try your best to protect yourself. Always remember that everything you post online is like a digital tattoo. If you post a photo or comment online, it is out there forever and you may lose control over how it is used.
Be kind to others online; you want your digital tattoo to be representative of who you are—a kind and loving person. If you see someone else bullying online, tell an adult and offer support to the person being bullied. It’s your digital tattoo—make it beautiful.