While restrictions are slowly being lifted, we are still spending a lot of time at home. Although it’s a relief to be able to start seeing our friends again, many of us can only hang out in restricted numbers and we still can’t get too close to each other. So, it could still be a while before we can return to activities like playing sport or going on holidays.
If you are trying to stay connected online until restrictions end, you may want to mix things up with one of these activities:
- Organise a virtual catch up. Schedule time each week where you and your friends can all come together and video chat to catch up on what everyone’s been up to.
- Start a fitness or dance challenge with friends. Never thought you’d be up for learning a choreographed dance on TikTok? Think again! Challenge your friends to learn the same dance or test another physical skill like doing push ups — against the clock in a group chat.
- Get creative and learn something new. Social distancing has definitely not been easy but it’s important to try to turn it into a positive. Will you ever get this much time to yourself again? Maybe not. So, take the time to deep dive into something that really interests you and that you might not be able to learn at school.
Unfortunately, cyberbullying can also happen when we are online. Cyberbullying is when someone uses digital technology to harass, humiliate, intimidate or threaten another person. Cyberbullying can happen in online classrooms, on chat and messaging services, by social media, text messages, emails and message boards, or in online forums. Social exclusion is also a form of cyberbullying. It includes being left out of online conversations, virtual parties, games with friends or other get togethers. While face-to-face contact is restricted, it may feel particularly bad. We all want to feel connected and know there’s someone we can talk to. Extra time spent online increases the risk of being exposed to cyberbullying and this can impact our mental health and wellbeing.
So, what can you do if you come across cyberbullying or if you see people being excluded from online group activities?
- Take action – know how to report cyberbullying if you or someone you know is experiencing it.
- Be an upstander not a bystander – don’t let cyberbullying slide. It’s OK to call it out.
- Speak with your friends regularly and check in to see how they are going.
- Check-in with a teammate or friend from outside your school if you haven’t heard from them in a while.
Remember, if something does go wrong online or someone makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, it’s really important to talk to a trusted adult about it, such as one of your parents or an older brother or sister. Importantly, they can support you to take action if you see or experience any negative online behaviours. You can also reach out to a counselling or support service such as Kids Helpline or Headspace.