The 21st century is known as the age of communication. It is now possible for individuals to remain connected with thousands of their peers thousands of kilometers away. However, this progress did not come without a price. The borders of what is considered public and private have shifted considerably, opening new avenues for exploitation and bullying. Modern bullies prefer to use cell phones and the internet to harass their victims from great distances.
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Nowadays, about 10-20% of young people become victims of cyberbullies. Some researchers argue that because of its wide reach, cyberbullying is more dangerous than traditional bullying (Sticca and Perren 741). Cyberbullying is a significant and widely-spread problem of contemporary schools, although there are interventions for its reduction and prevention that can be applied.
Cyberbullying is the emotional abuse of individuals through various means of modern communication. It is typically done by posting messages, pictures, and videos using popular media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube, in order to threaten, harm, harass, target, or embarrass someone (Aboujaoude et al. 11). Cyberbullying is characterized by a complete lack of sensitivity and empathy towards the victim as well as a much greater scope. Thousands of people can participate in cyberbullying at the same time, exerting great amounts of psychological pressure.
Types of Bullying
There are two types of cyberbullying. Public cyberbullying is done by known individuals with a purpose of hurting, harming, or antagonizing another. This type of bullying is easier to prevent and stop, as the perpetrator is always known, which makes it possible to initiate legal action against them. The other type of bullying is anonymous. In that case, the individuals involved do not know the people they bully and are protected by anonymity from retribution. This type of bullying is much harder to counteract (Aboujaoude et al. 11).
Effects of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying can cause numerous psycho-emotional effects in both the victims and the perpetrators. The victims tend to suffer from anxiety, depression, and other stress-related disorders. Prolonged cyberbullying makes a person disinterested in continuing academic activities, which has a detrimental effect on performance at school. Often, the victims of cyberbullying feel helpless and do not ask their families for help (Sticca and Perren 743). Rising distrust among family members reduces the quality of their relationships. In addition, both victims and perpetrators suffer from psychological difficulties and face an increased risk of committing suicide.
Signs of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is hard to spot because its signs and symptoms differ from one case to another, and can often be confused with other socio-psychological disorders. Some of the signs include those familiar to regular bullying, that being emotional distress, depression, and avoidance of school-related activities. Changes in mood, appetite, and sleep patterns are visible. Children become more secretive and hide their digital life. Other signs include avoiding electronic gadgets and getting nervous in their presence (Aboujaoude et al. 12). That sign is rarely found in other disorders and can point out to the instances of cyberbullying.
Interventions for Prevention
Some of the more effective measures for the prevention of cyberbullying involve either blocking the bully’s access to the victim’s profile page and contact list. Otherwise, it is recommended to limit the child’s access to gadgets and social media. Safety measures for children surfing the internet can prevent access to violent and harassing sites, but the majority of cyberbullying happens on the relatively benign platforms like Facebook. The best way to spot cyberbullying in early stages is being close to one’s child.
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The Internet is a dangerous place to leave children in unsupervised. It is important to control the child’s behavior online and be capable of recognizing the first signs of cyberbullying before it becomes a serious healthcare issue. In order to prevent cyberbullying, children and parents alike must be aware of effective interventions, as well as means of avoiding bullies online.
Aboujaoude, Elias, et al. “Cyberbullying: Review of an Old Problem Gone Viral.” Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 57, no. 1, 2015, pp. 10-18.
Sticca, Fabio, and Sonja Perren. “Is Cyberbullying Worse Than Traditional Bullying? Examining the Differential Roles of Medium, Publicity, and Anonymity for the Perceived Severity of Bullying.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence, vol. 42, no. 5, 2013, pp. 739-750.