Cyberbullying, facts we should know
Imagine that you have just witnessed a young person bullying one of their peers.
How would you feel, act or respond?
Our instinct is to often punish the ‘bully’ and to provide emotional support and reassurance to the ‘victim’. However, how do we cope when that ‘bully’ is on the other side of ‘cyberspace’ with no given identity.
What is cyberbullying
Traditional face-to-face bullying has long been identified as a risk factor for the society and the environment we live in. Its emotional turmoil has been identified and recognised as having lifelong effects.
The emergence of cyberbullying is no different to the traditional bully, only its far more dangerous and a hugely emerging epidemic that is widespread with no geographic boundaries.
Cyberbullies have the power to reach their targets at any time of the day or night. A victim could be anywhere in the world and receive unwanted negative comments from complete strangers, or as they are known in the cyber-world; trolls!!
Anyone who as access to the internet on devices such as mobile phones, tablets, games consoles ie, Xbox, laptops, computers and other equipment that can link us to the internet are vulnerable to Cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying can occur through the likes of; SMS (Short Messaging Service)/Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share its content. People are vulnerable to receiving unwanted posts or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation.
Common places for cyberbullying to occur
- Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter
- SMS (Short Message Service) also known as Text Message sent through devices
- Instant Message (via devices, email provider services, apps, and social media messaging features)
Different types of cyber bullying
Harassment- Sending offensive, rude, insulting messages- including in chat rooms and gaming sites
Exclusion – When others intentionally leave someone out of a group such as group messages, online apps, gaming sites and other online engagement.
Cyber Stalking – Repeatedly sending messages that include threats of harm, harassment, intimidating messages, or engaging in other online activities that make a person afraid for his or her safety. The actions may be illegal too depending on what they are doing.
Impersonation – When someone hacks into someone’s email or social networking account and use the person’s online identity to send or post vicious or embarrassing material to/about others. The making up of fake profiles on social network sites, apps and online are common place and it can be really difficult to get them closed down.
Flaming/Trolling – When someone is purposely using really extreme and offensive language and getting into online arguments and fights. They do this to cause reactions and enjoy the fact it causes someone to get distressed.
Outing and Trickery – when someone may share personal information about another or trick someone into revealing secrets and forward it to others. They may also do this with private images and videos too.
Consistent research is always emerging identifying the consequences of bullying on the emotional health of children and young people.
Victims experience lack of acceptance in their peer groups, which results in loneliness and social isolation. This in turn leads to a person’s social withdrawal.
Bullies are also at high risk too, they are more likely than non-bullies to engage in a range of antisocial behaviours. This leaves them at risk of becoming both alcohol and drug dependant.
Research in the Both Victims and bullies alike are at increased risk of depression and suicide.
Ironically there is a strong link between young children who are already being bullied and them falling victim to being Cyberbullied. There seems to be an underlying connection between the two. The added dangers that Cyberbullying can embark into the victim’s life throughout the day and night leave the victims far more vulnerable than day to day bullying. The impact is tremendous and effects all aspects of their well-being and mental health. Victims tend to suffer with symptoms of low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, paranoia, phobias.
Research from 2013 suggest how important it is to tackle any type of bullying early. This will help prevent it from escalating into something so much more.
Schools need to introduce a whole new approach that deals with both bullying and Cyberbullying dynamically. Introductions of a system that can encompass bullying as whole. External controls have their place, but we also need to remember the interpersonal nature of Cyberbullying. Suggesting that action against Cyberbullying should be part of a much wider concern within schools. exploring more of an environment where relationships are valued and where conflicts are seen to be resolved in the spirit of justice and fairness.
Let’s face it, Cyberbullying isn’t isolated to just children and teenagers alike! As adults we come across particular adults who are mean, rude and generally nasty. This could be in our own personal lives or in the work place. This can be even worse when you are being stalked/bullied and trolled via the internet. The effects of these can devastating and even at times end your career, damage you and leave you feeling suicidal. Cyberbullying for adults is taboo and rarely talked about. This is very much a growing epidemic in the Cyber world that we live in and action needs to be taken in order to take control. We cannot avoid using the internet, accessing our own emails and cutting ourselves away from the social media world to avoid bullies. You may find yourself being Cyberbullied by your boss! You may find that you have been barraged and given unrealistic workloads while the rest of your team have very little on theirs.
Here are some tips for both adults and children and teenagers in order to help protect themselves from those invisible trolls that impact our world through cyberspace.
How to stop Cyberbullying top tips
- Don’t respond. If you find yourself falling victim to someone online bullying, you. IGNORE
- Don’t react
- Save and store the evidence so that you can show the authorities such as Police. Remember they will leave a digital footprint every time they press any key so make sure it’s recorded.
- Talk to an adult that you can trust.
- If you are that adult, then make sure you seek help and do not feel ashamed or embarrassed this happens to a lot of people.
- Block the bully from all of your social media accounts and any other platform that you have them on.
- Be polite and civil but do not react
- change your privacy settings on your social media accounts to limit what others can see.
- Ensure that everyone you have on your social media accounts are only your friends and not ‘friends or friends’
- If you are not sure about someone, check their user profile name on Google and check their history in case they have previous for Trolling
- Google your own name to see if there is any information about yourself that is public on the internet.
- Don’t be a bully.
- Be a friend, not a bystander. If you see bullying going on with someone you know, then do not allow this and do nothing. Report it to a trusted adult.
- Contact Global support for a 24/7 helpline Twitter@askcybersmile to speak to a trained counsellor.
Internet safety tips:
- Never give out your real name
- Never tell anyone where you go to school
- Only meet someone from a chatroom in a public place with one of your parents or another adult. If they are genuinely who they say they are they will be happy to do this
- Never give out your address or telephone number
- Never agree to meet anyone from a chatroom on your own
- Tell an adult if someone makes inappropriate suggestions to you or makes you feel uncomfortable online
- If you are that adult then seek support from other agencies.
- Do not give out your location and see Top Tips above for further advise
If you have been affected by any of these matters, please contact someone from the links below. Or if you know someone that is a victim of Cyberbullied please speak out.