What is CyberBullying?
Teenagers and children are using the Internet regularly and most have unfiltered access to the web from their home. For many children, the web isn’t just an efficient way to research for a school paper or take part in a fun after-school activity – it’s a big part of their social life. Cyberbullying can be a threat to this environment.Games, email, social media sites and messaging with friends are among the most common online activities for youth. But just like many other social situations, some kids act as a bully to their peers online.
Cyberbullying is much like other types of youth bullying, but this form takes place online vial social media and through text messages sent to cell phones. Cyberbullies could be classmates, online acquaintances, and even people they’ve never met, but very often they know their victims from other interaction.
Some methods used by kids to bully online are:
- Using public websites to “rate” classmates as pretty, ugly, slender or overweight, etc.
- Gaining access into someone’s email or private message account to send cruel, hateful and false messages while pretending to be that person
- Creating web pages to make fun of a peer such as a classmate or even their teacher
- Sending mean or threatening emails, private messages, or text messages
- Kicking someone from an private messenger group or blocking their emails for no reason
- Tricking someone into revealing private or potentially embarrassing information and then forwarding it to others
Cyberbullying can be a difficult issue to detect, especially for adults who may not be as familiar with using the latest websites, private messenger apps, or social groups as their children. But like more common forms of bullying, it can be blocked when kids know how to protect themselves, how to notify their parents and when parents are available to help.
What are the Effects of CyberBullying?
Cyberbullying victims may go suffer many of the same effects as children who experience bullying in person. These effects can include:
- a drop in grades
- low self-esteem
- a marked change in interests
Cyberbullying may also seem more extreme to its victims due to several factors:
Cyberbullying usually takes place in the child’s home. Being bullied in their home can remove one of the places where children feel most safe.
It can be even more severe. Often children (and even adults) say things via texts, private messages or on social media that they wouldn’t say in person, primarily because the other person’s reaction isn’t visible.
It can be far reaching. Kids can forward emails making fun of someone to all of their classmates or even their entire school with just a few clicks, or post them on a social media site for the whole world to see.
It can be more anonymous. Cyberbullies often try to hide behind artificial names and fake email addresses that don’t identify who they are. Being unsure who is responsible for the bullying messages can increase a victim’s insecurity.
It may sometimes seem inescapable. It may seem simple to get away from a cyberbully by just not visiting sites they frequent, but for some teens and youth, staying offline takes away some of the major places they tend to socialize.