Technology has connected us in ways that would have seemed impossible just a few decades, but here we are in the present times where we enjoy instant online connectivity with amazing results. For instance, we can communicate with our loved ones on a daily basis, irrespective of the fact whether they live on the other side of the town or the other side of the world. Teenagers are using the virtual world according to their understanding and there are indications that a growing number of teenagers are indulging in cyberstalking as a pastime. Here we will discuss the meaning of cyberstalking, its different forms, and ways to prevent it.
What is cyberstalking? Put simply, it is online stalking in its basic form. This concept is defined as harassing someone through the use of technology, especially on the internet. The main features of cyberstalking include leveling false accusations against someone, monitoring activity, threatening someone, identity theft, or even manipulation of someone’s personal data. It may also include exploiting minors to gain sexual favors from them.
The kind of harassment that accompanies cyberstalking is usually uncalled for, is illegal per standards set by the law, and borders a bit on obsessive behavior. The most common tools used by cyberstalkers include, emails, text messages, phone calls, and online messaging to subdue their victims.
Stalking a person in the digital world nowadays includes visiting someone’s social networking profile all day long and keeping notes on the digital life of the targeted person.
An unsettling truth about cyberstalking is that it is mostly initiated by someone close to the family. Chances of a perfect stranger stalking you online are always less as compared to many cases where a trusted family member, friend, or associate indulge in these hideous activities.
The Harmful Side of Cyberstalking
When going through the facts about cyberbullying, it is easier to notice the harmful side of this activity that has taken teenagers by storm. Victims of cyberstalking go through immense psychological strain which could also translate to physical harm when the stalker takes aggressive measures and the victims lose decorum. It could also put an end to friendships, destroy careers, take a blow at self-esteem, kill confidence, and leave a victim scarred for life.
Tips to Prevent Cyberstalking
Parents always have an important role to play when it comes to nurturing their children and helping them walk through the difficulties of life with courage. Here are some ways in which you could help your children:
- Be very careful as to whom you allow to use your personal computer and other Internet-enabled devices (mobile phones). Cyberstalkers would always use some software or hardware device to attach with your computer so they could monitor your online activities all day long.
- You should teach your children to be very particular about properly logging out of their computers or social media accounts. The computer should be password protected at all times. They should take the same precautions on their mobile devices to prevent someone from gaining access to their online data and exploiting it later on.
- Always check the privacy settings of your communication devices and online accounts to ensure that they remain secure. You should also check he accounts of your children for the same purpose; which is protecting your privacy in the virtual world.
- Teach your kids to avoid maintaining online calendars or itineraries to prevent anyone from following them around in the physical world. Even if one of your kid’s do have an online calendar that charts their activity, talk to them about sharing the information with trusted people only while blocking lesser known people on the list.
- It is always a good idea to keep the security software of your device updated to the latest version. This would prevent any shady person from flooding your computer with spyware or any other virus. This would in turn reduce the chances of someone stalking you online by a great margin.
Cyberstalking is a very dangerous trend and is therefore regarded as a serious crime. You should teach your kids how to report incidents of cyberstalking to you, to the teachers, and to the police for appropriate action. Arm your kids with the right kind of knowledge and they would do just fine on their own, including keeping themselves safe from the menace of online stalking/bullying.