Today I want to talk about cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is different to normal bullying because cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As Cyberbullying takes place using electronic devices such as mobiles, tablets, laptops and game consoles, it can take place even when the victim is alone. It can happen to anyone, at any age, but typically affects preteens and teenagers. When an adult is a victim, cyberbullying is sometimes referred to cyber harassment or cyber stalking. The sad reality is, it can happen in so many ways such as text messages, instant messaging, social media, personal blogs, emails and more. Pretty much anywhere online can be the platform to target people.
These days, it’s so easy to post something hurtful about someone online and it can be shared millions of times. What makes matters worse, people can anonymously post things online. This can make it difficult to track down the source to report them however this doesn’t mean it’s impossible. The police, with the right help from internet providers, can track the bully down.
There are many different types of cyberbullying, and each is awful in its own right. Some of the more common ways someone can be bullied online are;
- Texting wars/text attacks from a group of bullies.
- Impersonation – Where the bully pretends to be the victim and acts in an offensive manner.
- Using photographs taken by the bully and posting them online. Photographs such as nudes or degrading pictures often taken in changing rooms or bathrooms.
Some bullies may even take it to another level and create blogs, websites or polls regarding the victim. The bully may post humiliating, hurtful and insulting information about the victim along with private information and photographs. Private information may lead to inappropriate people contacting the victim which could distress them more. There are also other ways cyberbullies can target victims such as;
- Flaming – Some bullies will use extreme and offensive language to get a reaction out of the victim. Shockingly, some bullies get pleasure out of watching their victim become distressed or upset.
- Outing/trickery – This can happen to victims that thought they could trust the bully. Outing/trickery is when the victim opens up about personal things to them and the bully outs them online by sharing the private information with other people.
- Cyberstalking – Some bullies won’t post online but instead send messages or emails repeatedly to the victim. The messages could involve threats of harm, harassment and/or intimidating
- Exclusion – This can happen to a victim that thought they could trust the bullies. Exclusion can be used by not involving the victim in online group chats/messages, online apps, gaming sites and more.
Cyberbullying and physical bullying can also happen together. By using a camera phone to record the physical attack on a victim it can be easily uploaded online and shared on social media. Using a camera phone can also be a way for cyberbullies to target adults. I have known children, as well as teens, say nasty things to adults, I have even seen videos online of very similar things. This can make an adult victim feel ashamed and embarrassed that younger people are targeting them.
There are several effects that cyberbullying can have on a person. The victim might turn to alcohol or drugs, skip school or be unwilling to attend school, receive poor grades at school and/or have low self-esteem. The victim may also suffer from depression, anxiety, powerlessness as well as feel vulnerable and isolated.
A survey conducted by Ditch The Label showed that 47% of young people have received nasty profile comments. 62% said that they were sent nasty private messages using a smartphone app. Most apps and social media accounts have strict rules that the users have to be 13 years of age or over. They also state any sort of bullying, abusive behavior including harassment, impersonation and identity theft are banned. However, unless the victim reports the bully, the social media network can’t do anything about it. When questioned about whether any actions had been taken after a victim had reported a bully, showed that shocking 91% said no action had been taken.
There are ways you can stop yourself becoming a victim of cyberbullying, even if the bullying has already started. It’s easier to just not have social media accounts or other messaging apps, however, I understand that it’s easier said than done. Don’t ever think you’re alone in this. As long as you tell someone, whether that be a friend, a teacher, a parent or other family members, you will never be alone. If the bullying has already started, save any evidence you’ve got. As hard as it can be, try not to respond to any of the bullying. Block and report the bullies on your social media accounts, and make your accounts private so they can’t contact you.
As a parent, there are things you can do to help prevent and stop your child from being a victim of cyberbullying. Your child might not understand why you are doing some of the things, but once they are old enough I’m sure they will be very grateful for it.
- Have a rule where their computer/laptop has to be in a busy family area.
- Have a rule that all electronic devices not used during evening meals and at bedtime. If need to take all the electronic devices from your child at bedtime.
- Educate yourself about different social media’s and instant messaging services.
- Educate yourself about slang words so you know what to look out or.
- If you child has social media, make your own account and add them.
- Educate your child about online safety.
- Don’t underreact over overreact if your child comes to you.
- Don’t threaten to take your child’s electronic device away from them or try shutting down their social media accounts as they may lead to them being more secretive due to not wanting to lose them.
- Speak to your child’s school if the cyberbullies are from the same school. Or even just to make the school aware of the situation.
- If threats or violence start involve the law, or even if the bullying continues and escalates.