Why do kids cyberbully each other
Bullying has been around forever but cyberbullying is different because it lets a bully remain anonymous. It is easier to bully in cyberspace than it is to bully face to face. With cyberbullying a bully can pick on people with much less risk of being caught.
Bullies are natural instigators and in cyberspace bullies can enlist the participation of other students who may be unwilling to bully in the real world. Kids who stand around doing nothing in a real life bullying incident often become active participants in online harassment. The detachment afforded by cyberspace makes bullies out of people who would never become involved in a real life incident. The Internet makes bullying more convenient and since the victim’s reaction remains unseen people who wouldn’t normally bully don’t take it as seriously.
When it comes to cyberbullying, they are often motivated by anger, revenge or frustration. Sometimes they do it for entertainment or because they are bored and have too much time on their hands and too many tech toys available to them. Many do it for laughs or to get a reaction. Some do it by accident, and either send a message to the wrong recipient or didn’t think before they did something. The Power-hungry do it to torment others and for their ego. Revenge of the Nerd may start out defending themselves from traditional bullying only to find that they enjoy being the tough guy or gal. Mean girls do it to help bolster or remind people of their own social standing. And some think they are righting wrong and standing up for others.
Because their motives differ, the solutions and responses to each type of cyberbullying incident has to differ too. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” when cyberbullying is concerned. Only two of the types of cyberbullies have something in common with the traditional schoolyard bully. Experts who understand schoolyard bullying often misunderstand cyberbullying, thinking it is just another method of bullying. But the motives and the nature of cyber-communications, as well as the demographic and profile of a cyberbully differ from their offline counterpart.
Who cyberbullies and why
A quarter of youth who perpetrate cyberbullying are teenagers who have also bullied others offline. However, the remaining three quarters do not bully others in person – implying that the Internet has empowered youth who would never consider bullying anyone in the physical world to do so in the virtual world.
Nancy Willard of the Responsible Netizen Institute explains that technology can also affect a young person’s ethical behaviour because it doesn’t provide tangible feedback about the consequences of actions on others. This lack of feedback minimizes feelings of empathy or remorse. Young people say things online that they would never say face-to-face because they feel removed from the action and the person at the receiving end.
Targets are the victims of cyberbullying behaviour. Although there is no physical violence, cyberbullying may be more frightening to targets because there are, potentially, an unlimited number of witnesses. When bullying is anonymous, targets don’t know who to watch out for or respond to – which can lead to feelings of helplessness. Over half (52 per cent) of teenagers who are targets of cyberbullying never actually report it.
Cyberbullying often occurs away from adults. Thus, witnesses or bystanders to cyberbullying have a very important role to play when it comes to putting an end to it. They represent social consensus and in this capacity, have an important role to play in stopping or supporting cyberbullying. In a study conducted by the University of Toronto in 2008, 28 per cent of the students reported having witnessed cyberbullying. Of this percentage, half react by rising up against cyberbullying; the other half goes along with it.