Cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person. It usually happens over the internet and mobile phones. Cyberbullying is usually associated with children. Such behaviour among adults is usually termed as cyber harassment or cyber stalking.
Cyberbullying is almost as old as the internet and has gained momentum as the number of children having access to the internet has increased over the years.
Why should I be aware of this?
Cyber bullying is the worst kind of bullying. The speed of technology, the spread and its 24/7 presence has intensified the effects of this form of bullying behaviour. The derogative remarks made to someone or about someone are more readily available for more people to see, therefore, causing even more psychological damage.
Unlike bullying that happens in the “physical” world where there are time and space limits, bullying in cyberspace is not bound by school hours, school days, or facing the intended bully victim. The perceived anonymous nature of the internet often insulates the bully from the consequences of their damaging behavior.
All about cyberbullying
Cyberbullying occurs when one person or a group of people use either the mobile phone, camera and or the internet to threaten, tease or embarrass someone the other child. It is widespread and its impact is serious.
- A 2005 study of 1500 Internet-using adolescents found that over one-third had been vectims of cyber bullying and half of those admitted to cyber-bullying others.
- A 2005 study by National Children’s Home Charity revealed that 20% had been cyber-bullying victims.
- A 2004 survey conducted by i-Safe America of 1556 adolescents found that 42 % had been bullied online.
Forms of cyberbullying
- Text or digital imaging messages sent on cell phones
- Instant messaging
- Web pages
- Web logs (blogs),
- Chat rooms or discussion groups, and
- Other information communication technologies
- Middle School and High School girls were about twice as likely as boys to display cyber-bullying behaviors in the form of email, text, and chat.
- Middle School and High School girls were twice as likely as boys to report receiving email, text messages or chat room messages that teased, taunted, and ridiculed.
- 62% said that they had been cyber-bullied by another student at school, and 46% had been cyber-bullied by a friend.
- 55% didn’t know who had cyber-bullied them.
- Only 20% cyber-bullying victims tell their parents about the incident. Victims are most likely to tell a friend (42%).
Types of cyberbullying
Some of the most common ways in which cyberbullies make life miserable for others are:
- Stealing an individual’s name and password to a social networking site, and then using their profile to post rumors, gossip or other damaging information.
- Altering photographs using PhotoShop or other photo editing software in order to humiliate the individual.
- Recording conversations without the individual’s knowledge or consent, then posting the call online.
- Creating confrontational and mean-spirited online polls about the individual and posting them on different web sites.
- Using web sites and blogs to post hurtful, embarrassing information about another individual.
- Sending very hurtful text messages to the intended victim on his or her cell phone. That same message is then sent to more of the bully’s contacts on the list.
- A group of kids bombarding very hurtful messages to the intended victim through email, and again sending copies of the emails to their friends to add to the bullying or use as a good laugh at the target.
- Bullying through a website is a website being established for the sole purpose of allowing other kids to write publicly displayed and hurtful messages about the victim or target. The website is emailed to several people so they all get a chance at hurting the target.
- Websites are also used as a voting tool. Voting for things such as the biggest loser in school, the fattest or ugliest girl. And once again, this website is published for others to add even more humiliation.
- Cell phone cameras are used to take picture of people in school locker rooms so cyber bullies can post them on the net. The website is also published and the target is publicly humiliated.
Effect of cyberbullying
Since cyber bullying can happen at home as well as at school, it can feel like there's no escape for kids who are being cyberbullied. Severe cyberbullying can leave victims at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and other stress-related disorders. In very rare cases, some kids have turned to suicide.
The punishment for cyberbullies can include being suspended from school or kicked off of sports teams. Certain types of cyberbullying also may violate school codes or even anti-discrimination or sexual harassment laws.
Signs of Cyberbullying
- Signs of emotional distress during or after using the Internet
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Avoidance of school or group gatherings
- Slipping grades and "acting out" in anger at home
- Changes in mood, behavior, sleep, or appetite
Why do cyberbullies do it?
- Cyberbullies think that they will not get caught if they do it on a mobile phone or on the internet
- The people who cyberbully are jealous, angry or want to have revenge on someone, often for no reason at all.
- Cyberbullies often think that getting their group of friends to laugh at someone makes them look cool or more popular.
- Some people also bully others as a form of entertainment or because they are bored and have too much time on their hands .
- Many do it for laughs or just to get a reaction
- A 2006 poll from the national organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids found that 1 in 3 teens and 1 in 6 preteens have been the victims of cyberbullying. As more and more youths have access to computers and cell phones, the incidence of cyberbullying is likely to rise.
- According to the National Crime Prevention Center, over 40% of all teenagers with Internet access have reported being bullied online during the past year.
- Girls are more likely than boys to be the target of cyberbullying.
- There is a direct correlation to the amount of time girls spend online and the likelihood that they will be bullied.
- The National Crime Prevention Center National Crime Prevention Center study found that only 10% of those kids who were bullied told their parents about the incident, and that a mere 18% of the cases were reported to a local or national law enforcement agency.
- Only 15% of parents are “in the know” about their kids’ social networking habits, and how these behaviors can lead to cyberbullying.
- Cell phone cameras and digital cameras are a growing problem in the cyberbullying world. A recent survey found that 10% of 770 young people surveyed were made to feel “threatened, embarrassed or uncomfortable” by a photo taken of them using a cell-phone camera.
What can I do?
- Consider installing filtering and blocking software.
- Keep your home computer(s) in easily viewable places, such as a family room or kitchen.
- Talk regularly with your child about on-line activities he or she is involved in.
- Set firm guidelines for cell phone use and monitor that behavior.
- Talk specifically about cyber-bullying. Explain that that it is harmful and unacceptable behavior.
- Encourage your child to tell you immediately if he or she is a victim of cyber-bullying. Tell your child does not respond to the bully.
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