Cyberbullying is a term that dates back to the emergence of the Internet. It refers to the use of electronic devices/communication to harass, intimidate, or embarrass another person. Cyberbullying is facilitated by electronic devices that include cell phones, computers, tablets, and communication tools, such as instant messaging, email, social media, and websites. Several studies have established that cyberbullying has serious outcomes that include psychological, emotional, and physical stress. For instance, victims of bullying are highly prone to anxiety and depression. Cyberbullying can be prevented by setting up privacy controls, creating awareness, monitoring what kids do online, and establishing rules regarding technology use. Cyberbullying is evolving as new electronic devices and technologies emerge. Parents and educators need to advocate for safer technologies.
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Cyberbullying refers to the act of harassing, embarrassing or threatening someone using electronic devices such as computers, cell phones and with the help of communication tools such as email, instant messaging, websites, and social media platforms. Bullying has evolved over the past two decades because it has moved from schoolyards to the Internet. Examples of forms of cyberbullying include sending mean text messages, spreading rumors about someone, and posting embarrassing pictures and videos of a person. Cyberbullying is a serious problem because it causes severe physical, emotional, and psychological stress. Parents and teachers need to advocate for safer practices about the development and use of technology.
Types of Cyberbullying
The most common types of cyberbullying include harassment, exclusion, outing, impersonation, cyberstalking, and denigration (Hunter, 2012).
Harassment involves the sending of offensive, threatening, or malicious messages to a person or a group (Hunter, 2012). It has serious implications on the victim’s well-being because in many cases, it is very difficult to identify the perpetrator. Technology offers several tools that bullies use to hide their identities and locations. The messages sent usually cause fear because of the threats they contain that affect the victim’s confidence (Brown, 2013). The constant sending of messages implies that the bully is unkind and therefore, committed to instilling fear and causing pain to the victim.
The outing is the deliberate act of publicly embarrassing someone by posting private information about someone or a group (Hunter, 2012). Bullies send private or sensitive information about a person without their consent to embarrass or hurt them. Outing can happen in various ways and it can be serious or negligible. It is unethical to share someone’s private information with others without their consent.
Exclusion refers to the act of intentionally laving a person out of a group or online discussion or chat (Brown, 2013). In most cases, the person that is singled out is the victim of bullying. Other members send embarrassing and nasty comments about them to hurt them.
Impersonation refers to the act of pretending to be someone else by creating a fake profile (Menesini & Spiel, 2013). Bullies use fake profiles to hurt other people by posting mean or false information posing as other people.
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This refers to the posting of online messages through communication tools with the intent of making fun of someone (Brown, 2013). Commonly used tools include email, instant messaging, social media websites, and online forums.
Effects of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying has severe effects on both children and adults. As mentioned earlier, it causes serious physical, emotional, and psychological stress and pain (Kowalski, Limber, & Agatston, 2012). The embarrassment that comes with cyberbullying prevents many people from seeking help primarily because of the fear of being judged. As a result, their confidence and self-esteem suffer. On the other hand, victims of cyberbullying live in a state of constant worry and fear especially if the bullies have threatened them with physical harm (Menesini & Spiel, 2013). In certain cases, prolonged fear and worry lead to tragic events such as suicide and self-harm (Kowalski et al., 2012). Victims of cyberbullying have low self-esteem, withdraw from family and friends, avoid school and work, and experience changes in personality. For example, the most commonly observed personality changes include isolation, irritability, frequent crying, and depression (Kowalski et al., 2012). Victims of cyberbullying are highly likely to use alcohol and drugs, avoid school, develop anxiety and depression, get poor grades, and have more health problems.
How to Beat Cyberbullying
The most important aspect of beating cyberbullying is reducing exposure to bullies. Parents should focus on implementing prevention strategies to eradicate cyberbullying. First, parents should reduce the time that their children spend on the internet (Peterson, 2012). If a child is a victim of cyberbullying, the parents should bar them from accessing the internet until it stops. Second, parents should talk with their children and discuss the problem. Offering emotional support is an important strategy to help children deal with cyberbullying. Third, young people should be cautious when posting information online (Peterson, 2012). They should consider limiting the number of photos they post and change their passwords regularly to avoid security breaches. Also, they should set their profiles as private and share their information with the people they trust. Fourth, parents should establish rules regarding technology usage (Brown, 2013). For instance, they should encourage their children to avoid interacting with strangers, picking fights, and sharing sensitive information with others. Finally, it is important to enact laws that give very harsh punishments to the perpetrators of cyberbullying (Kowalski et al., 2012).
In contemporary society, bullying has evolved from physical abuse in schoolyards to online attacks through advanced technological devices. Cyberbullying is a serious problem because it causes physical, emotional, and psychological stress. the pain and embarrassment associated with cyberbullying causes anxiety and depression among victims. Parents need to monitor their children when using technology and limit the amount of time they spend online. Creating awareness in schools is also important in beating cyberbullying. Children need to be taught about the various types of cyberbullying, their effects, and how they can be avoided.
Brown, T. (2013). Cyberbullying: online safety. New York, NY: The Rosen Publishing Group.
Hunter, N. (2012). Cyberbullying. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Raintree.
Kowalski, R. M., Limber, S. P. & Agatston, P. W. (2012). Cyberbullying: Bullying in the digital age. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Menesini, E., & Spiel, C. (2013). Cyberbullying: Development, consequences, risk, and protective factors. New York, NY: Psychology Press.
Peterson, J. M. (2012). How to beat cyberbullying. New York, NY: The Rosen Publishing Group.