Bullying is something we’ve only started to hear about in the recent years, even though many have been suffering from and were victims of bullying for years. With the invention of the internet, bullying traveled from the real world into the virtual one as well. As a result, more people fell as victims to cyberbullying, especially youngsters and teens.

On the other hand, the distance somehow created by the cyber world gave many “fake” immunity and anonymity, by enabling them to cyberbully others and get away with it!

In this article, we’ll discuss Cyberbullying. The reasons behind it, its effects, who’s more affected by it, how to stop it, how to combat it and we’ll end with some strong Cyberbullying quotes about this widespread term.

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is using tools available in the cyberspace or electronic means to bully or harass others, where it is also known as cyber-harassment. This new form of bullying is common among teenagers, who naturally use the internet more than any other age group. A teenager who uses the internet, social media websites, phone calls, text messages or emails to harass others, is a cyberbully.

Considered as an extension of traditional bullying, research shows that many of the teenagers getting bullied in the physical world, are those also getting bullied in the cyber world. In an adverse case, some of the teenagers bullied in the outside world, use cyberbullying as a means to let their anger, disappointment and frustration out.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

Buddha

There’s also the rare case where the cyberbully is physically stronger than the victim in real life, but they prefer online confrontations and interactions than those in real life.

Cyberbullying can be divided into three main types or means of usage, as follows:

1.    Cyberstalking:

The purpose behind this type of cyberbullying is obvious and that is to stalk the victim. Cyberstalking is considered to be the most dangerous of cyberbullying since the perpetrator closely follows the victim and can pose a real threat to their life. The perpetrator will send frequent messages to the victim threatening or harassing them.

An additional danger factor of cyberstalking is that the perpetrator can explicitly encourage others to join him in harassing the victim, he may even impersonate the victim and send fake messages to those people to drive them in that direction.

2.    Trolling:

Many have become in contact with cyber trolls, whether they realize it or not. Cyber trolls are those who try to force others to react to something, by provoking or harassing them. A cyber troll can do what he’s doing just for fun or because his character is aggressive. It’s important to know that not every cyber troll is considered a cyberbully, since some people see provocation as a way of joking or mischief.

3.    Hate Raids:

Generally targeting livestreaming applications like Twitch, hate raids occur when someone starts a livestream and suddenly the video’s chat is flooded with hateful and harassing messages. This results in the interruption of the livestream and the streamer might have to stop the stream. The difficulty behind hate raids is they’re mostly carried by a large number of bots, which makes it hard to ban and stop all these devices at the same time.

“With cyberbullying, one press of a finger on an electronic device can shatter someone’s reputation and what they think is their entire life. It’s scary.”

Justin Prentice

Reasons Why Cyberbullying is On the Rise

The most important reason behind any form of bullying is the human nature of the bully himself. There’s no way to justify such a demeaning act, no matter what the victim did, assuming they didn’t hurt the bully first and that person is simply just retaliating.

However, this is not the only reason why the phenomenon of cyberbullying has been on the rise in recent years:

1.    Increased Lack of Empathy:

The distance technology creates and puts between people made it difficult for many to feel empathy. Bullies don’t feel the impact of what they’re doing to others and they don’t regret bullying others or feel sorry for them. Studies have shown that cyberbullies didn’t feel anything after bullying anyone online, in fact it was the total opposite, many cyberbullies stated that such actions made them popular online, they thought it was funny and it made them feel powerful.

2.    The Bully Feels the Victim Deserves the Bullying:

This is one of the dangerous reasons, since it stems from the feeling of superiority these bullies feel when they’re bullying others, it’s like they’re bullying others to establish their dominance and status. Such a behaviour reflects deep insecurities, and unfortunately, this is also true for adults. Cyberbullying is increasing rapidly because bullies think they are entitled to let others know where they stand or that they have the right to say whatever they want, and this is common especially when it comes to celebrities and people in the public eye.

3.    Boredom:

There’s an undeniable kick which cyberbullies feel when bother others online, unfortunately by time, this behaviour can become addictive and the bully can just log in to bully others just to have some fun because he or she is bored. Drama and excitement are just a few clicks away!

It’s easy to get dragged into conflicts on social media applications, such as Facebook or Twitter. It’s a matter of logging in and you’ll be able to read all the comments and messages.

Sometimes, the bullies feel the need for attention because they feel they aren’t getting enough of it in real life, so they resort to bullying others, where they can get attention and entertainment easily.

4.    Self-Hate:

Many studies showed that many of the previous victims of bullying, become bullies themselves. This is a vicious circle that some of the previous victims are sucked into this circle of anger and they choose to cyberbully others, and the circle goes on.

5.    Revenge:

Instead of looking for a healthy way to deal with the cyberbullying they’ve been through, some choose to go out there and seek revenge by getting back, whether at the person who bullied them or at other people. The logic they use behind this way of behaving is that the people they’re targeting, deserve what’s coming for them, especially if they’re targeting their previous bullies through cyberbullying.

These so called bully-victims want others to experience and feel what they felt before, through this twisted thinking they believe they’re justified to do so. If the bully-victim targets the person who previously bullied them, it gives them a twisted sense of vindication and relief. However, they do also feel the same way if they cyberbully someone who’s weaker than them.

6.    Peer Pressure:

Fitting in is something almost all kids think about at school, and in this sense a kid might choose to cyberbully someone in order to fit in with a certain group at school. Some kids feel that cyberbullying is against their better judgement but they cave in to peer pressure and choose to cyberbully others, just to feel accepted.

When the kids let go of their better judgement in exchange for fitting in, they don’t think about the consequences of what they’re doing. There are some cases where groups of friends will choose to bully someone or some people together, as they believe that safety is in numbers.

7.    Cyberbullies are Hungry for Power:

What happens in real life, can also manifest on the cyber-verse, bullying and cyberbullying are no difference. Cyberbullies manifest real life status online, such as when popular kids cyberbully kids who aren’t as popular, or kids who feel they’re attractive target kids they don’t feel are as attractive as them. Such cyberbullies are excercising relational aggression online and are being mean.

Another tactic these hungry-for-power-cyberbullies use is to spread rumours about the kids they’re targeting, and on the internet, everything goes viral in seconds. There’s another dangerous second person here; the person who wants to climb the social ladder or gain some points by the “popular” kids at school, by cyberbullying someone, and grabbing the popular kids’ attention.

The way these cyberbullies see things is that diminishing someone else’s power is increasing theirs, especially if they were the reason the other person’s power diminishes.

8.    Everyone is Doing It:

When a kid sees many people cyberbullying each other online, they begin to think such a behaviour is acceptable, when it obviously isn’t. However, because this kid sees a lot of people engaging in cyberbullying, he is more likely to take part as well. The logic in their mind is that such a behaviour seems accepted by his peer group, so it’s not a big problem. If a kid is looking to fit in with a certain group online that cyberbullies others, he is more likely to resort to cyberbullying others himself, to gain validation and entrance from this group.

9.    Catch Me If You Can:

The internet allows people to do many things without their real names, it gives them a fake sense of anonymity and security. That’s exactly how many cyberbullies think, they believe they won’t get caught when they post or write something anonymously.

Also, because of the distance offered by technology and the internet, the bully doesn’t see how the victim feels or their reaction, which makes it easier for him to continue cyberbullying the victim, with no feeling of guilt. Some kids might go back from bullying others when they see their reaction and that isn’t available with the internet.

“I’ve experienced cyberbullying my entire life due to just having a last name that people knew.”

Noah Cyrus

In this regard, studies showed that in fact, some kids who might refrain from bullying others face-to-face, will resort to the internet and cyberbully others.

Effects of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is not a phenomenon faced only by the younger generations, but also by adults as well. Many of the following effects caused by cyberbullying are applicable to adults, from a slightly different perspective. It is, however, considered to be more dangerous to a still growing person who is on their way to configuring life.

While bullying can have harmful effects on youngsters, such as stress, anxiety, low self-esteem and learning problems. Cyberbullying is considered to be more dangerous and for many reasons. Bullying can be limited to a certain place, such as school, while cyberbullying occurs online meaning it can be anywhere and at any time, which makes it more persistent and cruel.

“Most bad behavior comes from insecurity.”

Debra Winger

Cyberbullying can happen anywhere from public social media posts to private messages, which are more harmful. This is because these messages trap the kids in them and let them think they’re alone in what they’re facing. This is why observing these effects of cyberbullying is vital!

The effects of cyberbullying can be categorised into the following categories:

Emotional Effects:

Thirty-two percent of kids who have been victims of cyberbullying said they had at least one symptom of stress, which is the most common amongst victims of cyberbullying. Other emotional effects include hurt, embarrassment, fear and self-blame.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Nelson Mandela

1.    Humiliated:

Cyberbullying takes place online, and this gives kids a sense of continuity, which is overwhelming for them. They feel that once something is out there, it will be there forever. The posts, messages or pictures containing the cyberbullying can be forwarded and shared with many people, which overwhelms the victim that all these people know about the matter, and it makes them feel humiliated and exposed.

2.    Isolated:

Cyberbullying leads to kids being left out at school, at an age where it’s crucial to have friends. It is such a painful experience to be going through school with no friends, especially that this can lead to more bullying.

In the event a kid informs his or her parents they were cyberbullied, the parents might suggest logging off social media and, at times, getting off portable devices completely. This might lead to more feelings of isolation and loneliness, since these devices can be a kid’s only way of communicating with his friends, and the outside world in such cases as the Covid-19 pandemic.

3.    Angry:

Feeling angry as a result of getting cyberbullied, was proven to be the first thing a victim feels, even before getting upset. The victim could try and get back at the bully; take revenge, which can both get him into trouble as well as it keeps him locked in the vicious bully-victim cycle.

Getting back at the bully is easier for kids to do than letting go or choosing not to retaliate, while it’s better to forgive than getting even. If cyberbullying is making your child overly angry, it’s probably best to seek the help of a counselor or a therapist, who can help your child deal with their anger in a good way and direct it towards positive activities.

“Every day we have plenty of opportunities to get angry, stressed or offended. But what you’re doing when you indulge these negative emotions is giving something outside yourself power over your happiness. You can choose to not let little things upset you.”

Joel Osteen

4.    Powerless:

Powerlessness and vulnerability plaque the thinking of a child who has been cyberbullied much easier than getting bullied at school. With bullying in the outside world, there’s an indirect way of escaping it by going home or leaving school every day. Cyberbullying is there whenever the child logs online or opens social media websites, it invades their privacy and is after them even when they’re home.

Although cyberbullies don’t have any worry about targeting people they know with their bullying behaviour, many choose to stay anonymous. Such anonymous disturbing behaviour causes deep stress and fear to the victim, when they don’t know who is targeting them and why.

Mental Effects:

Getting cyberbullied all the time can lead to changes in the way kids think, they see the world through hopelessness and meaninglessness. Over time, they might lose interest in their favorite activities, shy away from interactions with family and friends. It’s those feelings of loneliness and hopelessness that can lead to learning problems and suicidal thinking and behaviour.

1.    Anxiety and Depression:

Consistent cyberbullying will gradually replace the feelings of happiness and hope from the victim, replacing them with fear and anxiety. Since the cyberbullying is everywhere the victim goes, it can be very overwhelming to keep dealing with it all the time. Cyberbullying can also lower the victim’s confidence in themselves, which increases feelings of depression.

Research connected deep depression with consistent cyberbullying, where in one study a staggering 93% of victims of cyberbullying reported they had feelings of depression, sadness and anxiety.

2.    Low Self-Esteem:

While this isn’t always the case, a cyberbully will often target a trait or something about the victim over which they already feel insecure, such as a birthmark for example. Cyberbullying has a damaging effect on the victim’s feeling of self-worth and self-esteem, as a result of getting overly dissatisfied with who they are.

Due to the fluctuating psychological needs of teenagers, where they feel the need to be a part of a group. If cyberbullying lowers the victim’s self-esteem, they will feel more difficulty in fitting in with any peer group at school, which leads to feelings of psychological maladjustment.

3.    Learning Problems:

Kids who are being cyberbullied are more likely to skip school than kids who are not cyberbullied or even bullied only at school. It could be to avoid the kids who are cyberbullying them or to avoid facing their peers who also saw the messages or posts used to cyberbully them.

As a result, the victim’s grades will suffer as well, since they can’t concentrate even when they do go to school. Kids who are cyberbullied were also found to be more likely to drop out of school or choose to discontinue their education past high school.

4.    Suicidal and Self-Harming Behaviour:

A very alarming effect of cyberbullying is self-harming and suicidal behaviour. Somehow, when the victim of cyberbullying resorts to cutting themselves, it gives them a feeling of calm, almost as if they were punishing themselves for getting cyberbullied, which is very disturbing. Unfortunately, self-harm has been continuously linked with bullying and cyberbullying.

“Cutting, and suicide, two very different symptoms of the same problem, are gaining on us. I personally don’t know a single person who doesn’t know at least two of these victims personally.”

Pink

On the other hand, when the victim is consistently cyberbullied everywhere they go, since all they need to do is open their mobile phones to get cyberbullied, they can feel trapped and it torments them. This entrapment can lead the victim to think that the only way out is to end their life. They might begin with only fantasies about how their life can end, but in a split second, a fantasy can become true.

“Suicide is not a remedy.”

James A. Garfield

So, if you know or suspect that your child is having suicidal thoughts, seek the help of a professional and help your child come out of this dark spot. 

Physical Effects:

Bullying in the real world can lead to physical harm, which affects the victim directly. Cyberbullying on the other hand, is an invisible way of affecting the victim physically without coming into contact with them. The effect of cyberbullying on some kids can manifest itself in a physical way, such as the following examples:

1.    Gastrointestinal Problems:

Cyberbullying can severely affect the victim, it can cause or increase the intensity of already existing health problems. It can lead to stomachache, stomach ulcers and abdominal pain. Some kids even begin to suffer from vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.

2.    Eating Disorders:

If the kids feel they can’t control or stop the cyberbullying, they might resort to controlling their eating habits, which can be either abstaining from eating or eating too much. If the cyberbullying is directed at the body of the victim, it might create a distorted body image in the head of the victim, which will worsen the eating habits of the victim.

“Unhealthy eating habits cause major health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease, and can also lead to food insecurity, disrupted eating patterns, and low self-esteem.”

Matt Cartwright

3.    Sleeping Disorders:

While insomnia is a common effect of cyberbullying, where the victim can’t sleep from overthinking about what the cyberbully said. A worse effect is sleeping and having nightmares; this freaks the victim out more and makes them more agitated.

Behavioural Effects:

These effects are similar to those exhibited by victims of bullying in real life, like losing interest in their favourite activities, avoiding family and friends, disinterest at school or even preferring to stay alone most of the time.

However, cyberbullying can lead to more serious behavioural problems, such as:

1.    Substance Abuse:

A study showed that kids who were cyberbullied are almost 3 times more likely to resort to substances such as marijuana or even drinking, than their peers who weren’t cyberbullied.

2.    Skip School:

Skipping school, especially when the cyberbully is someone from the same school as the victim, seems like a way of realising freedom. The victim might also behave in a certain way to get themselves suspended from school altogether. One study revealed that students who were cyberbullied got about three times more suspensions and detentions than other students.

3.    Obtaining a Weapon:

This is also an alarming problem, the victim might resort to brining a weapon to school, regardless of whether the bully is from their school or not. The victim’s behaviour then isn’t just restricted to those cyberbullying him, but to anyone who disturbs him. One study showed that students who were cyberbullied brought weapons to school 30 times more than their peers, which is a scary result.

What are the Signs Someone is Getting Cyberbullied?

There are some common signs between being cyberbullied and other problems, but the following signs are a strong indication you’re dealing with someone who’s being cyberbullied.

1.    Feeling uneasy about going outside or going to school:

This can be a sign of both, bullying and cyberbullying. Your child keeps asking to skip school for the day or even call you from school to ask you if they could come home early. Such behaviour is an indication that your child doesn’t feel comfortable about going to school, or being around his friends and classmates, for some reason.

2.    Looking nervous when using the internet or social media:

Your child might act nervously if you’re around them while they’re using their mobile devices or are spending time on social media. This is why it’s vital to keep mobile devices and computers in a common place at home, in order to be able to keep an eye on what they’re doing, without making them feel they’re being watched.

3.    Feeling agitated after being online or gaming:

Something common that many kids do is that they slam their devices suddenly while they’re using it or they even might throw it away. This is a sign that something happened online, whether on social media or through messages, that deeply upset them. The burst of anger they feel all of a sudden is their way of blowing off steam and getting away from the bully.

4.    Doesn’t want to share any information about their activity online or on social media:

In most cases, victims of cyberbullying are afraid to say anything or speak out, especially to a parent. If your child is acting very secretive when it comes to the time they spend online, or doesn’t want to talk about what they do online or on social media, this is a major warning sign.

There’s a very smart way manifested in what’s called “a Family Contract” where there are rules regarding the use of mobile devices and social media in the house. The contract idea was presented by website Net Nanny as a means of setting household guidelines, which both the parents and kids agree to and sign. Such a signed agreement also teaches the children the value of made promises and signed agreements.

5.    Unexplained headaches, stomachaches, fluctuations in weight or refusing to eat:

Physical effects are a warning sign of both, bullying and cyberbullying. While this doesn’t necessarily mean the bullying has been consistent or went on for a long time, it still means that the bullying was so severe, it deeply affected the victim. The danger of this effect is if it continues for a long time, it will result in severe setbacks and health problems, so parents need to keep a close eye on their kids’ health.

6.    Sleeping trouble:

Victims of bullying or cyberbullying will stay up awake for long periods of time thinking and going over what the bullies are saying about them, whether the victim had chosen to retaliate or to stay silent. Some victims will end up blaming themselves and thinking they deserved the bullying, which results in more restlessness.

This results in making the following days harder, especially if they were school days and the kids wouldn’t be able to concentrate at school, trying to keep up with their peers and school work.

7.    Losing interest in favorite activities or hobbies:

Losing interest in their favorite activities or pass-time can be a sign of cyberbullying, because your child might be trying to avoid those bullying them in real life, so as not to get bullied in real life and on the internet. Your kid might also avoid their practicing their favourite hobbies so as to fit in with others and not be bullied because of them.

“It’s sad, actually, because my anxiety keeps me from enjoying things as much as I should at this age.”

Amanda Seyfried

What your role as a parent is to keep encouraging your child that their hobbies bring them happiness and satisfaction, and the approval of other kids is not important.

8.    Sudden depression or exhibiting anti-social behvaiour:

Time alone isn’t usually a warning sign, except when it’s not like your child to act this way. When all of a sudden they’re preferring to spend their time alone in their room and they look pretty upset or sad, this might be a sign of cyberbullying.

What you can do is let them know their family is there for them, by encouraging a family trip or outing, or even a game night at home where everyone chooses one of the games to play, you’re gently encouraging them to get out of their room and participate with the rest of the family.

9.    Avoiding close family and friends:

Not everyone expects that bullying or cyberbullying could come from close family or even close friends. However, it’s not uncommon, in fact it is very common as well and destroys many relationships. When your child is avoiding their close friends or favourite family members, it’s important to try and let them tell you the reason. This could be that your child is trying to distance themselves from the people bullying them and you’ll want to let them know that you’re there for them and got their back.

10. Making clear statements regarding suicide or making a suicide attempt:

If this happens, then you must take it seriously right away, statements about suicide or even attempting it is a serious warning sign. Make sure to let your child know you’re there for them and that everything you’ll be doing is for their own good. Seek the help of a professional and contact the school right away and get it involved. Assure your child you’ll be there for every step of the way.

“We need to change the culture of this topic and make it OK to speak about mental health and suicide.”

Luke Richardson

Cyberbullying During the Time of Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic saw almost all the world resort to the virtual world to do all the things they used to do in real world, and online education was one of those things. As a result, students began to use the internet and virtual programs almost all the time, for lessons, connecting with the outside world and to connect with their peers. This is one of the many great benefits of technology, virtual programs and social media programs, but the risks posed by these programs still exist.

Cyberbullying Quotes to Reflect the Seriousness of the Problem
Cyberbullying has been on the increase in the past years

Unfortunately, with moving school work home, bullying moved to the cyber world as well. An online-harassment-tracking agency called L1ght, stated there was an increase in cyberbullying by 70% after the pandemic, in just a few months. This increase cannot be all attributed to technology, there are some other factors as well, such as:

1.    Isolation:

Everywhere was closed when the Covid-19 pandemic started and everyone was ordered to stay at home. This isolation created a deep feeling of loneliness, for kids and adults alike, but while adults can have many duties to fulfill at home, kids get lonely easily. The fact that not many kids have continuous internet connection, deepens this feeling of loneliness and isolation.

The other side of this is that these kids might resort to leaving mean or rude comments to others online, to compensate for when no one of their friends or the groups they circle with, is online.

2.    Boredom:

Before the pandemic, kids could engage or participate in activities, games and go out to use their time in doing something beneficial. All this to keep away boredom and they still had time to bully others. After the pandemic, there’s basically nothing to entertain the kids, not that bullying is legitimate entertainment, it’s only the way bullies see it.

Now that the kids are bored, with not much to do, they may resort to cyberbullying to have fun, relieve stress, feeling lonely or seeking attention. But mostly, because they’re bored.

3.    More Stress:

Things have been very confusing when the pandemic started and that continued for a long time. This confusion brings about a lot of stress and anxiety, for both kids and adults. For kids, if they don’t have healthy habits in place to help them relieve stress, they can resort to act out or lash out at others, even their own friends. So, these kids might not only resort to cyberbullying other kids randomly, but they might pick a fight or two with their friends as well.

“If you don’t think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days.”

Kris Carr

4.    Less Online Supervision:

The pandemic created a new reality where parents needed to find a balance between working from home with home duties and homework with their kids. This resulted in parents being not as attentive as before to what their kids are doing online. This might make the cyberbully feel falsely secure, since he or she knows no one’s watching like they used to.

5.    Limited Support Groups:

There aren’t many support groups of victims of bullying and studies have shown that victims of bullying are more likely to talk to a counselor or a teacher at school about what they’ve been through, than talking to their parents.

“People who fail to use their emotional intelligence skills are more likely to turn to other, less effective means of managing their mood. They are twice as likely to experience anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and even thoughts of suicide.”

Travis Bradberry

With the pandemic, access to these people is not always possible and the kids might fear that by telling their parents that they will put further limits on their internet use, which is the only way they could connect to friends.

Who is most affected by Cyberbullying?

There isn’t a specific standard used in deciding who gets cyberbullied more, in fact, there’s no standard at all. It’s not only kids that get bullied online, but also adults. However, adults are seen as more likely to be able to deal with the bullying and know how to avoid it. Kids on the other hand, are still developing mentally and emotionally, this is where cyberbullying is more destructive.

Researchers at Pew Research Centre and Cyberbullying Research Centre found several categories of people are more likely to get bullied than others:

1.    Gender:

Researches by both centres resulted in the discovery that girls are more likely to get cyberbullied than boys. The PRC published a study where 38% of girls said they were victims of cyberbullying, in comparison to only 26% of the boys. The CRC’s study had a number of almost 37% of girls said they were cyberbullied, in comparison to almost 31% of boys.

Furthermore, the PRC study stated that 41% of the girls who were victims of cyberbullying were between ages 15 and 17. The same age group was also more likely to get a life threatening message or email.

2.    Students with Special Needs:

The National Centre for Education Statistics stated that students with special needs represented 35% of students in the school year of 2014-2015. Sixty-six percent of students with special needs were the victims of bullying at school, in comparison to the 25% of the other students. Not to mention that students with special needs are two times more likely to get bullied by their peers than other students.

Cyberbullying Statistics

It’s difficult to summerise studies and statistics about cyberbullying, the numbers are frequently changing. It’s vital to know that when an adult is involved in bullying, whether they are the perpetrator or the victim, it’s then called harassment or even stalking. Surprisingly, there are some online establishments such as businesses and casinos that were accused of cyberbullying customers over the years.

Here we’re talking about the latest cyberbullying statistics:

1. A percentage of 95 of teenagers are using the internet frequently, with 85% of those are constantly using social media websites, using their mobile phones, which makes mobile phones the most common tool used for cyberbullying.

2. Thirty-seven percent of youngsters, between 12 and 17 years of age, said they were victims of cyberbullying, and 30% of them said it was repeated.

3. Sixty percent of teenagers say they’ve experienced cyberbullying. The same percentage of youngsters were found to have witnessed cyberbullying but the majority of them didn’t intervene.

4. Eighty-one percent, equivalent to 4 out of 5 students said they would intervene in preventing and stopping cyberbullying if it was available for them to be anonymous.

5. Seventy percent of teenagers say someone spread rumors about them.

6. Eighty-seven percent of youngsters say they’ve came across cyberbullying cases online.

7. Seventy-three percent of school students feel they had fallen victims to bullying in their life so far.

8. Forty-four percent of school students think they were bullied in the last 30 days.

9. Generally, a percentage of 36.5 of people stated that they feel they were victims of cyberbullying before. Of this percentage, a 17.4% of people said it happened during the last 30 days.

10. One in every three kids in 30 countries around the world, were victims of cyberbullying, both at school and other places.

11. Just one teenager of every 10 is likely to let an adult, a parent or another trusted person of the cyberbullying they were a victim of.

12. A small percentage of American parents, amounting to 7% only are worried about cyberbullying happening at school.

13. Parents in Japan and Russia said they were confident their children didn’t experience any form of cyberbullying, whether at school or other places.

14. Forty percent of American adults say they’ve been victims of cyberbullying.

15. Seventy-five percent of American adults said they’ve witnessed instances of cyberbullying around them.

16. About 10% of people in Australia say they were victims of cyberbullying.

17. In Canada, one of every five people of internet users of the age group of 15 to 29, admitted they either were cyberbullying or cyberstalking victims during the past five years.

18. Most of the cyberbullying occurs on social media websites, even one-fifth of bullying in general. Forty-two percent of school students cited Instagram as the highest website where they’ve experienced cyberbullying, Facebook followed with 37%, then Snapchat with 31%, 12% said it was WhatApp, YouTube and Twitter were at 10% and 9% respectively.

19. The constant or intensive usage of social media websites was proven to be one of the major causes of mental health issues. In this regard, students who’ve fallen victims to cyberbullying are more prone to mental health and adjustment problems at school.

“Mental health can be just as important as physical health – and major depression is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses.”

Michael Greger

20. Twenty-three percent of students admitted they’d said something mean or have been rude to someone online before. While 27% of them said they were the victims of such a behaviour.

21. School teachers have reported they consider cyberbullying to be their main safety concern in the class.

22. Twenty-four percent of young adults between the ages of 26 and 35 stated they’ve been constantly being cyberbullied through their lifetime. This shows that the majority of cyberbullying victims are young adults.

23. Thirteen percent of people between the ages of 46 and 55, said they’ve experienced a lot of cyberbullying during their lifetime.

24. Adult people in the public eye, such as celebrities in different fields, be it entertainment, science, technology even the media makers, are some of the most targeted group of the society with cyberbullying. Since this fame, somehow makes others believe they have the right to judge and be rude to these adults online.

25. Sixty-one percent of people get bullied for their appearance.

26. Twenty-five percent of people said they were cyberbullied due to their intelligence or even academic achievements.

27. Seventeen percent of people stated they were victims of cyberbullying for their race.

28. Girls are more likely to be both perpetrators and victims in cyberbullying than boys, with at least 15% of girls being the target of cyberbullying and other abusive behaviours online, in comparison to only 6% of the boys.

29. A survey conducted back in 2020 revealed that 44% of the internet users experienced cyberbullying and online harassment. Twenty-eight of these users said the actions they were exposed to included physical bullying threats, sexual harassment, stalking and sustained harassment.

30. Sixty-four percent of the victims of cyberbullying said it resulted in low self-esteem, affected their ability to cope and learn and even made them constantly feel unsafe.

31. Cyberbullying is detrimental to teenagers, since it can result in many mental health problems, increase the tendency towards suicide, suicidal thoughts and behaviours, cause depression and can even lead them to harm themselves.

32. A teenager who’s been a victim of either bullying or cyberbullying has been shown to be two times more prone to attempt committing suicide or exhibit suicidal behaviours.

33. Since 2008, both suicide attempts and thinking about the action has doubled among adolescents.

34. Studies show that suicide is the second cause of deaths for people aged between 10 and 34 years old.

35. Sweden is the country with the highest level of awareness regarding cyberbullying with 91% level of awareness among people.

36. On a global scale, 75% of people have awareness regarding cyberbullying.

37. The United States, India and Brazil are considered the top three countries with the highest cyberbullying problems.

38. China, India and Singapore are the three Asian countries with the highest levels of cyberbullying with 58%, 50% and 46% respectively.

39. The Netherlands, followed by Iceland and Spain are considered three of the countries with the lowest percentages of cyberbullying.

40. Sixty-five percent of parents have awareness of the fact their teens might be experiencing cyberbullying through social media websites such as Facebook.

41. A percentage of 59.4 of parents made sure to talk to their children about the practices of safe internet and online safety measures, after incidents of cyberbullying.

42. According to Google Trends, the focus on cyberbullying in the recent years has been increasing.

43. During the third quarter of 2021, Facebook administration worked to remove 9.2 million of content pieces that were found to be violating their guidelines, especially regarding cyberbullying and harassment.

44. Another website; YouTube, removed 4.6% of uploaded videos during the third quarter of 2021, based on their online harassing and cyberbullying content.

45. Eighty-three percent of youngsters believe that social media platforms are not doing enough to combat cyberbullying on their websites, and that they should do more.

46. In comparison to teenagers and older people, studies found that younger people are more likely to seek putting an end to cyberbullying.

47. A percentage of 71 of teenagers say that the best way to avoid and prevent cyberbullying is through blocking the potential perpetrator.

48. Tweens; children between the ages of 8 and 12, a 66.3% percentage of them, said they’ve tried to help victims of cyberbullying.

49. For tweens, more than 60% of them said the best way to avoid cyberbullying is by blocking the person, around 51% of them tell a parent, more than 43% of them completely ignore the person, around 30% of tweens decide to report the bully to the website or application while around 30% of tweens decide it is best to take a break from the internet altogether.

50. More than 69% of tweens who were victims of cyberbullying said it affected how they feel about themselves, almost 32% said it affected their friendships, more than 13% said cyberbullying affected their physical health, while those who said it affected their school work stood at around 7%.

51. In the United States, 48 of the states recognized the dangers of cyberbullying and added this hurtful action as a part of their harassment laws, on the basis that cyberbullying is harmful to the wellbeing of adolescents and teenagers.

52. In certain cases of cyberbullying, it’s imperative to call the police. Such cases include threats to safety, death threats, extortion, threats of violence, intimidation or if there’s evidence or threats of sexual exploitation.

How to stop Cyberbullying (Steps to Take to Protect Your Kids Online)

One of the most direct options teens think about when they experience cyberbullying is they delete the social applications through which they were cyberbullied and they decide to take some time off screen. However, this isn’t a long term solution, the victim might need to access the internet for something important and it isn’t right they are reminded of all the cyberbullying there encountered when they log back in again.

While 90% of teenagers believe cyberbullying is a problem, only 63% of them believe it’s a serious one. These teenagers feel that their schools, social media websites and even politicians aren’t doing enough to help solve this problem. It’s very common that teens would hesitate to tell an adult, because they feel this adult won’t be able to stop the cyberbullying, and they also fear that the cyberbullying might even get worse if the bully finds out an adult has become involved.

“People think cyberbullying will never end, so why try to fix it? Which I completely understand. I will be the first to tell you that it’s not going to end. But if you start making the change and start making the steps, over time change will happen.”

Lizzie Velasquez

It’s a fact that cyberbullying cannot be completely stopped, but it doesn’t mean you can’t take an action and watch a loved one being cyberbullied without doing anything. There are different steps which parents, kids and even the school administration can take in order to help stop cyberbullying:

For Parents:

1. Keeping the computer at a common place at home, if the computer is at the kids’ room, it will be harder to keep an eye on what they’re doing or getting exposed to. You’ll also be able to watch their behaviour and whether they’re getting exposed to something disturbing but don’t know how to talk about.

2. Be on the lookout for signs of changes in your kid’s behaviour. There are many common signs between being a victim to cyberbullying and other problems, such as sudden drop of grades, disinterest in favorite activities, depression, skipped classes, lack of interest in eating and sleeping disorders.

If you notice that your kid has been avoiding or getting upset when they’re using the computer or their smartphone, it might be an indication they’re being cyberbullied. Or on the other hand, if your kid is overly angry when you limit their screen time or take away their phone, they might be the bullies themselves.

3. Learn to talk social media, learn how the social media applications work and how you can do different things using these sites, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Snapchat. Show your profile to your kids and ask to see theirs.

4. Dialogue and conversation could not be stressed enough, talk with your kids to let them know what’s allowed online and let them know they can come to you if they encounter something offensive or harmful online.

5. Discuss with your kids how to keep themselves safe online through setting up a few guidelines. These could be like limiting the personal content they get to share, such as photos or private information about themselves. Make sure they’ve set their profiles as private profiles, where those outside their list of friends can’t access information on it, and that they must not respond to messages or requests from people they don’t know in real life.

6. Guide your kids through setting up strong passwords for their accounts, since in many cases cyberbullies were able to hack into the profiles of the victims and post offensive and mean comments and posts on their behalf.

7. Involve your kids in setting the guidelines for screen time, this will make them more likely to help. Discuss the rules and be open to change, this will also solidify the trust they have that you’ll listen when they seek your guidance.

8. It’s important to talk to your kids about how to curb the urge to retaliate. Fighting back the cyberbullying, while it might seem to be solving the problem at first and the cyberbully might stop, but it can result in two major problems. The first being, the cyberbully will return even stronger and more mean than before, and the second is the victim can turn into a bully themselves. Over the long term, this is extremely harmful, so it’s imperative you talk to your kids about how to solve the problem in the short term, and the long term as well.

9. If you feel or suspect that your child is being cyberbullied, try to approach them, talk to them and let them talk to you freely. Kids fear that as an adult you won’t understand or that you will judge them and blame them for getting cyberbullied in the first place.

“I found that with depression, one of the most important things you could realise is that you’re not alone.”

Dwayne Johnson

10. Tell your kids to ignore cyberbullying comments or posts and not to respond to them. However, ask them to keep the messages, emails and posts including the name of the cyberbully, in the case if you’re going to report the cyberbully, you’ll need to prove it.

11. Do not blame your kids for being bullied, never! A great number of bullying victims think they deserve to be bullied, hence they don’t ask for help or seek comfort. When your kids come to you to talk about encountering cyberbullying, support them and be understanding. Assure them that what the cyberbully said is bare of truth and that you’ll both work together to figure a solution out.

12. Taking away your kids’ mobile or portable devices is not a solution, since it might have adverse consequences; they will be even more secretive and you’ll be driving them away.

13. If your kids are back at school, talk to the guidance counselors so they’d be able to keep an eye on them if any bullying takes place at school.

14. Talk to your kids about practical and effective ways through which you can cut the cyberbullying. Get the school involved or even by seeking professional help from a therapist.

15. After talking to your kids, if it turns out they are being cyberbullied, you need to report to the authorities who can help. If the bullying is taking place at school, you will need to report to the school administration and your kids’ mentor. If the bullying is online, then you will need to report to service providers or even the police.

16. Call the police or law enforcement if there’s a threat to your kids’ life or any physical threat to them.

17. As a parent you must act right away to help protect your child and let them feel safe, especially that youngsters who’ve been victims of cyberbullying are twice more likely to attempt suicide or act in a self-harming manner.

For Kids:

1. Do not respond to anything sent to you by the cyberbully, messages, posts or emails.

2. If you wanted to respond to the bully, the only thing you can do is ask them to stop. They probably won’t, they might cyberbully you even further. But it’s good to be included in the evidence when you report the cyberbullying.

3. Do not forward any messages or emails containing cyberbullying to other kids, or you’ll be considered an accomplice.

4. Save the messages, take screenshots of them and print them, to use as evidence when reporting cyberbullying.

5. Block the cyberbully completely, which is a feature available in most social media applications like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

6. If you’re being targeted with cyberbullying, seek the help of an adult and talk about what’s happening.

7. If you’re witnessing someone getting cyberbullied online, you must report the matter to an adult, friends and teachers so they can get involved and stop it.

For Schools:

1. State that any type of bullying, whichever the means used to do it, isn’t allowed at school and will not be tolerated. Also let it be clear that any form of bullying will be strictly punished.

2. Every school district ought to have an anti-bullying policy, which incorporates all the educational staff at school, from the school director, administrators, teachers, parents and the kids.

3. Add classes about Internet Safety Awareness into the schedule, everyone will find them beneficial and might actually help some kids who are being bullied or cyberbullied and are afraid to talk.

4. Hold discussion sessions about bullying, its forms, types and how everyone has a role in preventing it. Engage the parents with the teachers and students. Even use student assemblies or council to project the ideas to their peers, there are also school events as well as PTA meetings, have a discussion and get everyone involved.

There’s also a major role that politicians can play, that is advocating for the drafting and passing of legislations that criminalise cyberbullying and make it punishable by the law. Canada passed in 2015 a bill that stated that distributing images of someone without their approval is illegal, as well as if there were reasonable grounds onto which the police believed a violation took place, that they can get a warrant to collect information about the concerned internet users.

How Social Media Applications Are Helping Limit Cyberbullying

One important step in the face of cyberbullying is setting clear guidelines for users of any website to use, and if not followed, the behaviour can be reported to the administration and the person can be warned and later blocked if not compliant. Several of the most used social media applications have set up guidelines regarding reporting offensive behaviour. These are as follows:

1.    Facebook and Instagram:

The owner company stated their commitment in leading the way in fighting cyberbullying, to safeguard both the safety of the community and that of youth as well. They use AI technology to filtre out comments that are offensive or are intended to annoy others or harass them, using the “Hide Offensive Comment” feature. This feature or filtre is turned on for all users and cannot be turned off.

On Instagram, when a user is adding a new post and writes a caption that the AI detector deems as offensive, the user will be notified that their caption resembles previously reported captions for cyberbullying. Then the user is given an opportunity to edit their caption to conform with the set guidelines.

Examples of comments or captions that are detected by AI as offensive, include comments making fun of someone’s appearance, their character or even comments containing direct threats to the victim or their health.

Other options on the application include blocking, muting or even restricting the cyberbully, and the other person will not know; they don’t get notified. You can use the restriction tool to protect your personal data, while watching out for the cyberbully, if you don’t feel like blocking or muting them.

“People speak about diversity and representation like the world is ready. But when it actually happens, people can’t take change. They can’t deal with it. Which is why we have things like cyberbullying, which is why people will send you nasty DMs, say nasty things in your comments. Because they’re just not dealing with it, they’re not ready.”

Zozibini Tunzi

2.    Twitter:

Twitter is most known for sharing ideas directly, with a simple and attractive interface. However, with the ideas flying here and there all the time, it’s normal you feel that someone’s ideas don’t suit you. Then all you need to do is unfollow this person and problem solved. However, if you keep getting offensive and disturbing content you can block the account itself or even report it to the Twitter administration.

The methods Twitter use include both technology and human effort, with the help of its users to identify abusive comments or behaviour.

3.    TikTok:

The trending social media application stated that their main priority is to provide a safe environment for their users to feel free and express themselves with creativity. This is why any post or comment aiming at shaming, harassing or bullying any members of the community is removed. Human power, represented in moderators, and technology work together to identify abusive content and remove it.

TikTok also provided their users with control tools so they are in control of everything, who gets to see their content, who can interact with it, who can comment and the tool to also moderate the comments.

Controlling Cyberbullying during Covid-19

Not all schools have opened their doors to students, since the Covid-19 pandemic is still ongoing. There are several steps that parents can take in order to keep an eye on their kids and making sure they aren’t cyberbullying anyone online or they aren’t victims or cyberbullying themselves:

1.    Guidelines:

Parents can try to limit screen time for their kids, and replace screen time with better and interactive activities to keep them busy and away from the internet and cyberbullying. This is an important step, and a difficult one as well, but if the parents try to participate in those activities with the kids, it would be more fun for them.

2.    Leave the Door Open:

It’s vital that you always talk with your kids about what’s going on, and especially during the difficult times of the pandemic. With stress, many locked-down places and restrictions, they can get frustrated and depressed easily. This can either lead them to cyberbullying others or becoming victims of cyberbullying. Let your kids know they can always come to you, talk to you and work out solutions and steps together to take.

3.    Encourage Kids to Communicate More:

Kids need connections with friends and family to promote their emotional and thinking development. Having to stay at home means this connection has been deeply affected and that can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. It’s a great step to encourage your kids to use video calling applications to communicate with their friends and try to maintain their friendships and communication with those close to them.

What can I do if I am, or someone I know is being Cyberbullied?

If you’re getting cyberbullied there are several steps you can take:

1. Tell the cyberbully to stop.

2. Do not retaliate to any incoming messages, emails or texts the cyberbully is still sending you.

3. Seek the help of someone else, preferably an adult; a parent, a teacher, the school counselor or even a therapist.

4. Take screenshots and photos of all the disturbing behaviour the cyberbully exhibited and save them on your phone.

5. Completely block the cyberbully on social media or whichever means they used to get to you.

“If you have the feeling that something is wrong, don’t be afraid to speak up.”

Fred Korematsu

If someone you know is being cyberbullied, please follow the same steps and it’s crucial to report the matter to someone who can hold the cyberbully accountable. Your friend might feel afraid to talk to an adult, so be sure to be their trusted friend and encourage them to talk to someone responsible who can help them. Take care not to get dragged into the cyberbullying yourself, rather take all evidence and seek help from an adult.

It’s difficult to say cyberbullying will be completely eliminated, but it’s vital to work together to help curb this stealth thief stealing the liveliness of our youth.