You hear it a lot. “__________ was the victim of cyberbullying.” It’s more prevalent, and more dangerous, and has led to tragic stories of deep depression and suicide. But what exactly is it? Why is so important to be aware of it, and to help those you love in order to minimize the chances of it happening to them? Here is some basic information about cyberbullying.
So what is cyberbullying, and how is it different from bullying?
Bullying refers to the attempt to harm, intimidate, or coerce an individual or group of individuals who may be perceived as vulnerable. Cyberbullying refers to the act of using digital technology or communication tools, such as social media platforms, emails, texts, or online forums, through the use of computers, tablets, or smartphones, to harass, embarrass, intimidate, or humiliate others. Cyberbullying involves using electronic communication devices or modalities to target vulnerable individuals or groups in order to cause emotional distress, embarrassment, social exclusion, or behavioral manipulation.
Cyberbullying can occur in various ways, including:
- Sending or posting hurtful or offensive comments or messages.
- Spreading rumors or lies about someone online.
- Sharing embarrassing or private information, photos, or videos of someone online without their consent. This can include revealing personal or sensitive information about someone, such as their medical conditions, sexual orientation, or other secrets.
- Repeatedly sending offensive, hurtful, or derogatory messages, often with the intention of provoking a reaction.
- Creating fake profiles or accounts to deceive and harm others.
- Purposefully excluding someone from online groups, communities, or activities.
- Engaging in persistent online monitoring, following, or tracking of an individual, causing them fear or distress.
The unique problems with cyberbullying include:
- It can be done easily, quickly, and anonymously.
- Information posted online can be permanent or, at the very least, much more difficult to delete.
- It is more difficult to determine the perpetrator(s), and therefore to stop the cyberbullying.
The dangerous and severe consequences of cyberbullying can include:
- Extreme emotional distress to the victim, including anxiety, depression, and damaged self-esteem.
- Academic, social, and physical consequences.
- The potential for self-harm or suicide.
It is important to raise awareness about cyberbullying, educate individuals about its impact, and focus on increasing interpersonal respect in order to address this issue and reduce its occurrence.