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Traditional vs. Cyberbullying in Children


Cyberbullying is a relatively new concept that emerged in the light of progress associated with the development of the Internet and various online communication tools. Researchers investigated the impact of cyberbullying on children and teenagers and compared its effects with the influence of traditional bullying. It was found that around 11% of children or teenagers were once victims of cyberbullying, approximately 7% were both bullied and were bullies, and 4% of them bullied someone else online. Compared to the statistics of traditional bullying occurrence, it can be suggested that cyberbullying is far less persistent. The paper focused on investigating the difference between cyberbullying and traditional bullying of children and teenagers, suggesting that there is a problem in how they use the Internet and social media to communicate.

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It was concluded that children and teenagers are far more likely to react emotionally to verbal abuse online due to their lack of experience communicating with other people: what adults may shrug off, children will take too seriously. Therefore, it is the parents’ job to ensure that their children use the Internet safely and take precautions to prevent online abuse from occurring. Modern social media platforms offer their users options to block and blacklist certain people, make their profile private and only available to friends, and so on. Cyberbullying will end when parents teach their children to ignore the abusive language, not read mean comments, and report offensive language; possessing knowledge on how to use the Internet can significantly reduce the instances of online harassment. Overall, digital bullying is less of an issue compared to traditional bullying in real-life situations when abuse can get physical and lead to adverse implications.

Annotated Bibliography

Peebles, E. (2014). Cyberbullying: Hiding behind the screen. Paediatrics & Child Health, 19(10), 527-528.

According to the author, the term “cyberbullying” has emerged only recently, with no research articles published before 2004 referencing it. While there is no universal definition of the concept, the majority of explanations focus on repeated activities on the Internet aiming to cause psychological harm. Cyberbullying can range from verbal harassment to exclusion; activities associated with it can take place via numerous tools such as social media or instant messaging. It is noteworthy to mention that the key difference between traditional bullying and cyberbullying is the anonymity, which has adverse effects on both the victim and the bully.

Kowalski, R., & Limber, S. (2007). Electronic bullying among middle school students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41(6), 33-30.

The research included a 23-question survey and the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire given to 3,767 middle school students (6, 7, and 8 grades) to examine children’s experiences with cyberbullying. According to the survey, 11% of respondents indicated that they had been cyberbullied at least once, 7% of respondents stated that they were victims and bullies, and 4% indicated that they had cyberbullied someone else (Kowalski & Limber, 2007). The researchers found that chat rooms, e-mail, and instant messaging applications were the most common methods of cyberbullying (the study was conducted before the emergence of modern social media). The research is significant due to its early detection of cyberbullying as a problem and the predictions that it would exasperate in the future because children’s use of the Internet and electronic communication technologies was unlikely to reduce.

Kowalski, R., & Limber, S. (2013). Psychological, physical, and academic correlates of cyberbullying and traditional bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(1), 13-20.

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The researchers anonymously surveyed 931 students in grades 6-12 to examine their experiences with both traditional and online bullying by using measures of depression, anxiety, self-efficacy, and overall wellbeing. The study participants were differentiated into four categories such as victims, bullies, bully/victims, and those not involved in bullying (categorizations were similar for both traditional and electronic bullying). It was found that those participants who belonged to bully/victim groups had the lowest scores regarding the identified measures of anxiety, depression, self-efficacy, etc. Therefore, the study concluded that there was a significant overlap between traditional and online bullying because the psychological, physical, and academic correlates of the two types of bullying were similar.

Cassidy, W., Jackson, M., & Brown, K. (2009). Sticks and stones can break my bones, but how can pixels hurt me?: Students’ experiences with cyber-bullying. School Psychology International, 30(4), 383-402.

The research aimed to investigate the extent and the impact of cyber-bullying cases on the youth while exploring the behaviors from perspectives of both victims and bullies. Also, the study had an objective to provide an insight into the growing problem to inform policymakers and educators on the appropriate measures for prevention and intervention. Researchers concluded that the problem was relatively new since bullying through electronic means never existed thirty years ago. While it was identified that cyberbullying was a persistent problem that requires management, no relevant strategies for its mitigation were formulated.

Laftman, S., Modin, B., & Ostberg, V. (2013). Cyberbullying and subjective health: A large-scale study of students in Stockholm, Sweden. Children and Youth Services Reviews, 35(1), 112-119.

The researchers aimed to study the prevalence of cyberbullying among students, the overlap between traditional and online bullying, and links between the subjective health of students and their experiences with cyberbullying. It was found that 5%, 4%, and 2% of participants were victims, perpetrators, and both victims and perpetrators respectively. It is noteworthy that cyberbullying and traditional bullying usually overlap since students that were victims of traditional bullying are at a higher risk of being subjected to cyberbullying. Similarly, a conventional bully is more likely to become a cyberbully. After conducting the OLS regression analysis, the researchers found that being a cyberbullying victim was associated with worse subjective health if to take into account other socioeconomic factors.

Characteristics of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is defined as activities targeted at harassing and humiliating a person through the use of technologies such as SMS, instant messaging apps, online social media, chat rooms, and other methods of digital communication (Peebles, 2014). Because of the prevalence of social media and online communication is continuously growing, cyberbullying has become of concern to parents, educators, and policymakers. However, this paper will focus on exploring the argument that cyberbullying is different from traditional bullying and does not have the same magnitude and physical harassment. It is essential to investigate this perspective because it will allow formulating a strategy for the reduction and prevention of cyberbullying on an individual level.

Unique concerns of cyberbullying include three characteristics such as persistence, permanency, and difficulties with noticing the problem overall. Regarding the persistence of cyberbullying, digital devices usually offer the convenience of continuous 24-hour communication, which makes it more complicated for victims to find relief. As to permanency, most information that is communicated via electronic means is public and cannot be erased if not reported. A negative reputation online (including that of a bully) can harm individuals’ employment possibilities, college admissions, as well as personal relationships. Cyberbullying is hard to notice because it is not apparent; parents of teachers may not see it taking place since its impossible to overhear or see (Stop Bullying, 2017).

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Difference Between Online and Traditional Bullying

While connections between traditional and cyberbullying have been made, it is imperative to explore the differences to determine whether the latter is a problem (Kowalski & Limber, 2013). If to look at the statistics of traditional bullying, 28% of 6-12 grades students experienced bullying, 30% were bullied and bullied others, while 70.6% witnessed bullying at school (Stop Bullying, 2017). These statistics show that traditional bullying is a much bigger problem when compared to cyberbullying and the percentages found by Kowalski & Limber (2007).

If one is physically or verbally bullied in the workplace or at school, it is a serious issue that needs resolving; very often, there is no universal solution to this type of harassment since each case is different. Online, however, no one can assault anybody or cause physical harm. The worst thing that happens to the victims of cyberbullying is that they get called names or become subjects of false rumors. The impact of such online activity is not near as severe as the impact of the same insults or rumors in real life because on the Internet one has to actively participate in communication before labeling oneself a victim; to be precise, one has to make a point of reading the information that is being spread.

Overcoming Cyberbullying

For those people who cannot take the insults or bad language that is directed to them online, it is recommended just to stop reading and providing a reaction that the bully wants to evoke. Also, one can use an array of tools that social media offer to report negative language and block users; most forums and social platforms provide such possibilities. It is crucial to remember that online hate is reinforced by the fact that there is no physical interaction taking place – a bully is hidden behind his or her computer screen and thus feels safe to type whatever he or she wants. Therefore, a victim of online bullying is a victim by choice that prefers to read the insulting comments and take them personally instead of ignoring or blocking them.

It is important to mention that all studies included in the annotated bibliography only investigated the influence of cyberbullying on children, which suggests that adults are far less prone to become victims of online “abuse.” Several reasons may explain why this occurs. First, younger people are more inclined to insulting each other. Second, teenagers and children are far more likely to give an emotional response to verbal abuse; emotional maturity comes with age, which makes adults less vulnerable to insults that can cause depression in children or teenagers.

Because children react emotionally to insults that are said about them online, it is suggested that they do not use the Internet without adults’ supervision. Parents should understand that the online world is not only games but also a place filled with negativity that can affect their children.

To conclude, the problem lies in not young people being angry at each other and writing insulting messages but in poor parenting and the lack of understanding of what children can find online, who they speak to, and what websites they use. In many cases, a person has to be at least sixteen years old to use the majority of social media platforms; thus, many children or teenagers break the Terms of Use by using some website, about which their parents have no idea. Also, there is a variety of methods to secure the usage of social media. For example, Facebook allows users to blacklist certain people from reading and responding to posts, ensure that only friends can read updates, and so on. To ensure that cyberbullying does not affect their children, parents should be educated on the available security options.


Stop Bullying. (2017). Facts about bullying. Web.

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