The Internet has so many benefits attached to it. However, it also comes with many risks to protect against, such as cyberbullying. The term was first used in 1998. It was defined as “the electronic posting of mean-spirited messages about a person (such as a student) often done anonymously.”
However, as time went by, we faced a much broader definition of it. Essentially, it mirrors real-life bullying by using electronic communication.
Cyberbullying can start as early as eight or nine years, but it’s most present during teenage years, up to 17, says Public Safety Canada. The main issue with it is that it spreads very quickly. In turn, most teens have been involved in cyberbullying, whether as a bully, target, or silent observer.
In other words, cyberbullying is much more present than you might think. Worse yet, it poses very real threats. In some cases, this means non-reversible consequences.
Back in the day, people didn’t pay as much attention to cyberbullying. Fortunately, more individuals and organizations, including even celebrities and news media, address this issue as time goes by.
Before we get into details, let’s review the basics.
Cyberbullying refers to using digital technologies for bullying, meaning repetitive behaviors to make another person feel sad, angry, or scared. It can take place on computers, phones, tablets, using text messages, or social media platforms.
Cyberbullying covers both sending harmful, mean, or false content to someone or spreading the talk to others. So, cyberbullying also means sharing and posting this information on the bully’s account to harm the victim.
Sending hurtful messages or threats to someone, spreading lies or posting embarrassing photos of someone, or impersonating individuals are all examples of cyberbullying.
According to Unicef, cyberbullying creates long-lasting effects. These activities can affect a person mentally, emotionally, and physically. The victim can feel upset, embarrassed and angry, ashamed, or tired. The emotions can turn into physical pain, such as headaches and stomachaches. In extreme cases, this can even translate to suicide or the victim taking their own life.
Kids usually call cyberbullying hating, trolling, gossip or drama. Regardless of the name, it’s a serious phenomenon that asks for attention.
If you are wondering whether it comes to cyberbullying or not, you need to answer the following questions:
If the answers to these two questions are yes, it comes to cyberbullying. If not, the offender might demonstrate bad online behaviors.
As mentioned, cyberbullying is very common. The following stats can confirm this fact.
Furthermore, teachers were asked to fill out a Google Form. According to the survey, cyberbullying is the top online issue for students, ahead of privacy, inappropriate content, and other concerns.
Cyberbullies have found many ways to harass their bullies. In some scenarios, they even combine multiple tactics to hurt their targets. As mentioned, cyberbullying can take place on different devices.
Still, the most extraordinary phenomenon is that sometimes bullies aren’t aware of their actions; they don’t know that their actions classify as cyberbullying, least that they are hurting others.
Here are some frequent methods of cyberbullying:
The question, at this point, is, how can you identify cyberbullying?
Here are some things that act as warning signs you should look for in your children, friends, or relatives:
Often, cyberbullying can take place alongside face-to-face bullying. The only difference is the first leaves a digital footprint. It might not initially help the victims. Still, records come especially useful for providing evidence to fight against abuse.
According to stopbullying.com, cyberbullying primarily takes place on:
Here are some common ways that cyberbullying takes place:
When an individual shares content online, it can easily become the subject of comments from friends, acquaintances, or even strangers. So, with the increased use of social media and the Internet, cyberbullying has also been on the rise.
Cyberbullying differs from traditional face-to-face bullying. It’s a particular issue, especially for the parents and teachers. Here are several unique concerns related to cyberbullying:
Sure, cyberbullying differs from bullying. However, it can cause the same consequences, if not worse. The negative effects of cyberbullying might even be more durable and severe, as explained.
Fortunately, many organizations worldwide understand the issue of cyberbullying and its consequences. Today, you go to a broad range of places to receive the needed support, help, and advice regarding cyberbullying.
You can download cyberbullying guides for expert advice on the Internet, on pages such as:
Keep in mind; this list is not complete. Of course, you can find many other helpful resources on cyberbullying on the web and in real life.
Overall, cyberbullying can cause embarrassment and humiliation. However, in some extreme scenarios, it can also turn into unlawful and criminal behavior.
Luckily, schools worldwide have responded to bullying in the form of law, local, or school policies.
Still, the laws on bullying and cyberbullying are relatively new phenomenons. Some countries have introduced them. Still, others have not yet.
In reality, most countries rely on other relevant laws, such as the ones fighting harassment. Furthermore, when cyberbullying is based on age, sex, color, race, national origin, disability, or religion, it can also overlap with discrimination, harassment, or hate crimes.
If a country has specific laws on cyberbullying, the authorities will classify online activities that deliberately cause serious emotional distress as criminal activities.
Furthermore, victims of cyberbullying have the right to report the offender and hold them accountable. The bullied individual can seek protection by law in some countries. At this point, the authorities can prohibit communication between the victim and offender. Also, they might temporarily or permanently restrict the bully from using electronic devices for cyberbullying.
Even so, laws and punishments have not always proven as the best alternative for preventing cyberbullying. In most cases, the better option is to repair the damage and improve the relationship between the involved parties.
Cyberbullying is a common and incredibly concerning phenomenon. It’s not limited to age, sex, race, or location. Anyone can just as easily become a victim or the bully itself.
It’s a complex issue that comes with many attached and unique challenges. It’s as difficult to detect and even more hard to resolve. Still, the consequences might be fatal. As mentioned, cyberbullying might even lead to suicide.
Victims of cyberbullying might feel enticed to leave the Internet and stay offline, at least for some time. However, that’s indeed not a long-term solution. Worse yet, it further encourages the bullies to pursue their harmful behaviors.
Today, we have the needed support to stop cyberbullying. If you are bullied, remember that reporting such behavior is the first step towards solving the problem. As for the rest, keep in mind, saying and sharing some content can hurt others.
Always try to be kind to one another, both online and in real life!