All About Cyberbullying: What is Cyberbullying?
Most people by now are familiar with what is cyberbullying, but if you find yourself asking the question “What is cyberbullying exactly?”- it is a legal term used to describe any form of harassment or intimidation done over the internet. The harassment and/or intimidation must be intentional, ongoing and done in a hostile manner to qualify as cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is a huge problem and is becoming a growing epidemic among children. With the increase of social media and internet use among people of all ages rising each year, cyberbullying cases continue to skyrocket as well.
Often, the most common offenders of cyberbullying are the ones you would least expect. This is because when they are behind a computer, they feel that they have more power and wind up saying harsher, more offensive things than they would actually say to someone in public. Sometimes these people are referred to as “keyboard commandos”- people who are braver behind a keyboard than they are face to face.
Cyberbullying can be devastating to a child’s self-esteem and can have lasting consequences on their mental health, their ability to interact socially, and their ability to perform in the classroom. In some extreme cases, cyberbullying has even led to suicide.
Children and teenagers aren’t the only victims of cyberbullying- adults have also been found to be victims as well as culprits of cyberbullying.
All About Cyberbullying: Side Effects of Cyber Bullying
There are many side effects of cyberbullying, and they vary from victim to victim. Typically the lasting side effects of this type of bullying depend on the length of time the person is bullied combined with the intensity of the bullying. Side effects range all the way from mild depression and social anxiety to suicidal tendencies. Some of the side effects associated with cyberbullying include:
- Increased Depression
- Lack of Interest in Hobbies
- Poor Performance in School or on the Job
- Increased Anger and/or Hostility
- Low Self-Esteem
- Alcohol and Drug Problems
- Suicidal Thoughts
All About Cyberbullying: How to Prevent Cyberbullying
Recently, cyberbullying has become illegal in New York, Rhode Island, Missouri, Rhode Island and Maryland. Forty-five other states have digital harassment laws in place in the event an extreme situation arises.
- Talk to Your Children About Bullying
- Be Aware of What Your Kids Are Doing Online
- Educate Your Children About the Internet
- Check Privacy Settings of Social Media Platforms Your Children Use
Although cyberbullying is a growing epidemic, many parents turn deaf ear to it. In fact, some don’t even know what is cyberbullying. A report done by the Pew Institute found that at least 53% of kids are bullied online, with 35% of children being bullied on a regular basis. The effects of bullying are devastating on children, but the earlier you notice the problem, the easier it is to stop it.
If you find out that your child or someone you know is a victim of cyberbullying, that person should be reported to the appropriate authorities immediately. Whether you contact the principal if it is a child, or the cops if it is an adult, it is crucial that these bullies get reported because odds are, the victim you know is not their only victim. Believe it or not, cyberbullies can even be reported to online service providers.
If you or your child is being victimized online, there are steps you should take immediately (after reporting the offender):
- Block the Person- If you are being bullied on a social media site, it is usually easy to block the person using the security settings on the website. If this is possible, you should block the bully as soon as possible. If the bully isn’t using a website where you can easily block them, contact the web host and request their help- they may be able to assist you if you explain your situation.
- Don’t Respond to the Person- If you can’t block the bully right away, it is best to just ignore them. If you engage them, you are just fueling the fire and are putting yourself at higher risk of getting further harassed. Until you can block them completely, just ignore them completely. They want to get under your skin. If they feel like they aren’t doing that, they may even back away.
- Print Evidence of the Bullying- Don’t delete harassing text messages, emails or other forms of cyberbullying. Always print them out so that you have tangible evidence against the bully. Time stamped, dated copies of the information are always best.