Cyberbullying. That term has been used quite a bit in recent years. Although it’s becoming more common, there is still some confusion about what it really means. What exactly is cyberbullying, and what are the effects of cyberbullying? This is when someone uses technology and electronic devices to do mean things, such as start rumours, post embarrassing things on social media, or send inappropriate content or text messages meant to incite violence or hurt feelings in some way. These bullies use any kind of device they can to attack their victims: computers, phones, tablets, chat rooms, through online gaming and social media sites.
When cyberbullying occurs it is often followed by negative effects. The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey showed that 16 per cent of students in grades 9-12 were cyberbullied in the past year. Additionally, the 2008-2009 School Crime Supplement showed that 6 percent of students in grades 6-12 had encountered some form of cyberbullying. Online bullying can lead to loss of self-esteem, and even contemplation of suicide.
With access to so many tools that could potentially do harm, safety is a primary concern to teachers and parents. Due to this, the effects of cyberbullying are more important to be aware of than ever before.
The Effects of Cyberbullying
The effects of cyberbullying may not be noticeable at first, but the stress factor builds up over time. Many students experiencing cyberbullying feel alone and scared. In most instances, cyberbullying doesn’t start online, but in person. The situation then escalates. The signs of cyberbullying include:
- Not wanting to go to school.
- A sharp drop in grades and performance.
- Skipping school.
- Sudden self-esteem issues.
- Complaints of illnesses.
- Acting withdrawn.
- Use of alcohol or drugs.
The Effects of Bullying on Children
Cyberbullying is a very serious matter. Students have taken their own lives because they felt pressured, embarrassed and felt they had no other alternatives. With so many technology devices available, and the online world primarily unsupervised, there is a lot of room to someone to act maliciously.
What to do if you’ve been cyberbullied, or are worried about someone who may be the victim of bullying? The first thing that usually has a positive impact is communication. If you’re a student, talk to an adult and explain how you’re feeling and what has been happening. If you’re a parent or adult, start random conversations about cyberbullying and what to do if it occurs, especially if you’re recognizing symptoms. Sometimes the student may not want to say anything for fear of the ramifications. Starting a healthy, non-threatening dialogue could make the difference between a positive or negative consequence. Other things that can be done:
- Don’t give out passwords for your computer, cell phone or social media profiles.
- Don’t share anything personal with anyone that could potentially put it on the Internet. That includes pictures, secrets or information on others that you may have.
- Save the bullying messages or postings as proof.
- Block the person doing the cyberbullying.
- Turn off your technology. Sometimes you need to take a break and step away from being engaged all the time.
The effects of cyberbullying are severe topics, with many sad stories. However, the entire outlook isn’t bleak: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has the initiative to counteract cyberbullying. There are also many organizations that encourage healthy dialogue and offer solutions to situations that may occur. Here at Nobullying.com, we advocate for educating, advising and counselling individuals who are concerned with the effects of cyberbullying. Take a stand with us to fight for what’s right. Someone’s future could depend on it.
The Effects of Cyberbullying: Five Steps To Take Action Today
If you want to know what to do about the effects of cyberbullying, here are five steps you can take to protect yourself and your family today to prevent such atrocities:
- Report EVERY incident of bullying, no matter how small. This does not mean that you have to go to federal court for a minor incident, but it does mean that you should take every incident seriously and take the appropriate actions to prevent it from happening to someone else.
- Consider the source and report to network administrators, as well as authorities. When an incident occurs online, you have the right to report this to the system or network administrators and let them know what happened, when, whom it involved, and other information. Local police may need to be involved depending on the severity of the case. Often the system administrator of the website on which the bullying occurred will be best able to help. They will also be able to identify the culprits of the bullying so that you can report the names to the proper authorities.
- You could install monitoring software on your computers. This is not always the best option; as it is better to be open and honest with your children, rather than spying on them. By monitoring the behaviour and sites visited by your child while online, you can get an idea of the patterns that preceded the incident and this can be valuable information to use to tell authorities should bullying reach higher levels.
- Have a zero-tolerance policy against cyberbullying. Explain to your children that you will neither tolerate their being bullied nor will you tolerate their bullying of other children online. Just like in the real world, they all need to understand that bullying is harassment when it occurs off campus and is punishable by law.
- Get involved. Perhaps the best thing parents can do in this day and age is to get involved in what their child is doing. This is just good parenting and involves a lot more than asking what they did at school. Really probe and find out who their friends are, what is on their minds, and why their grades have fallen. Often falling grades are the result of a problem at school. A child and you may need to take up some issues with the school counsellor in order to get to the bottom of it.
Spread the word about The Effects of Cyber Bullying Now! The effects of bullying online and offline are very hard for a teen to overcome. Bullying is not a rite of passage, and the effects of bullying online and offline can remain forever in a child’s psyche. Let’s prevent the effects of bullying from falling on the coming generations now. Please help us in this battle by sharing this information, and other cyberbullying information, on social media. Also, we welcome you to post a comment and join the discussion below.