Cyberbullying – Definition
The Internet has created a new world for people to meet, connect and exchange information; unfortunately, it has also created another opportunity for bullying. The convenience of modern technology enables people who are bullying to hide behind anonymity. Cyberbullying (electronic bullying, online bullying, or cyber harassment) is defined as a form of bullying which is carried out through an internet service such as email, chat room, discussion group, online social networking, instant messaging or web pages. Just like other forms of bullying, cyberbullying is about power and control. Those who bully others are trying to establish dominance over people they perceive to be weaker than them. Cyberbullying is when a child, preteen or teen is targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. Tactics of a cyber-bully towards theirs victim(s) are meant to:
It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Bullying has always been a problem. But now kids can be tormented by their bully 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through their computers and their cell phones. The attacks can occur anywhere, anytime, over and over again. As long as the victim keeps using these devices, the online harassment continues. The bully is most commonly a peer to the victim, although there are instances where the instigator of the bullying is someone older. When the activity involves adults as both the victim and the bully, the behaviour is more commonly referred to as cyber stalking or cyber harassment. As more young people use the Internet for socializing, the incidence of cyber bullying is likely to continue.
Cyberbullying is a means of harassment that makes use of online tools to accomplish the purpose. Cyberbullying is bullying or harassing that happens online. Much of it is similar to what teenagers experience offline in schools, homes, or in the community but has the additional aspect of the Internet. The cyberbully may post embarrassing images, information, or gossip about another individual on various social networking sites as well as email, instant messaging, and message boards or forums. As with any type of bullying, the activity is aimed at undermining the confidence of the victim and creating suffering for reasons that are usually not apparent to anyone but the bully.
Examples of cyberbullying behaviour are:
- It can take the form of a message on email or IM or a social networking site from someone who is threatening to hurt you or beat you up.
- It could be a profile made by someone pretending to be you.
- It might be rumours posted on your profile or spread online for others to see.
- It might be the deletion of you on a friend’s “buddy list” to make you feel left out.
- Sending unwanted messages
- Spreading of rumours online
- Teasing and being made fun of
Someone hacking into your profile and writing comments pretending they’re from you
Children have killed each other and committed suicide after having been involved in a cyberbullying incident. Cyberbullying can happen to anyone and the bully can act anonymously if they want. People can also be bullied online by groups of people such as class groups or collective members of an online community. The bullying, threats and other offensive behavior(s) sent online to a victim or sent or posted online about the victim are designed for other people to see. Cyberbullying is usually not a onetime communication, unless it involves a death threat or a credible threat of serious bodily harm.
The exact approach to cyber bullying will vary. Cyberbullying occurs in many different places and ways online and the bully will attack in the following ways:
- Chat rooms
- Instant messaging
- Message boards(and other similar venues)
- Mobile Phones
- Personal digital assistants (PDAs)
- Social networking sites
- Text messaging
The victim(s) of this terrorizing activity will repeatedly endure harassing phone calls and anonymous threats. It really becomes a never-ending nightmare for the young kids. These victims will often feel totally alone, trapped and desperate for a solution. Most of them simply don’t know what to do when it happens to them. The victim of cyber bullying should always report the activity so that corrective measures can be implemented. All schools should develop guidelines for the use of computers at schools and libraries, making it easier to stop cyber bullying when it is detected.
There is little doubt that cyberbullying, which can be the equivalent of “social death” for many young people, is traumatic. Cyberbullying differs from traditional, face-to-face bullying in that it is relentless and public and at the same time anonymous. Cyberbullying has turned the usual image of “the bully” on its head; it’s no longer only the “tough kids” who may act aggressively – it can just as easily be the shy, quiet types, hidden behind their computers. Added to this is the potential presence of countless, invisible witnesses and/or collaborators to the cyberbullying, which creates a situation where victims are left unsure of who knows, and whom to fear.
Avoiding this issue will eventually lead to problems with a child’s self-esteem, their self-confidence, and their emotional stability. Kids can potentially suffer from nervousness, anxiety and dark states of depression. They can fall into social isolation, and they’ll be far more likely to engage in criminal behavior as they get older. Left alone, kids may even become bullies themselves, victimizing other children and making things even worse. The effects can be especially brutal and the results can be disastrous. Extreme cases of cyberbullying have led to teen suicide and terrible, long-lasting emotional damage. This is not the kind of problem that usually just takes care of itself. This needs your focus and your compassion, and it needs to be handled well in order to minimize the effects on kids as well as yourself. As a parent, you have to know what to do when your child comes to you asking for assistance because an online bully is bothering them.