Cyberbullying can happen anywhere at any time. It used to be that victims of bullying could find solace at home, but with today’s technology, there’s truly no escaping it for the cyberbullying victims. Cyberbullying can take place anytime and anywhere. Cyberbullying can come in the following forms:
- Social Media–Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, and more
What qualifies as cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is defined by stopbullying.gov as communication via electronic devices (like those listed above) to harass, spread rumours, send mean texts, post embarrassing pictures, or create fake profiles on social media sites.
The trouble with cyberbullying
Cyberbullying can be especially difficult to handle or deal with for the following reasons:
Today it is so easy to post online through fake or anonymous accounts. Obtaining an email address that cannot be traced back to the source is very simple and easy. Cyber bullies can hide behind anonymity making it hard for school administrators or even law enforcement to find the source. This makes it hard for the victim as s/he may question his/her friends and not know who s/he can trust.
- It spreads fast
Once something is posted online it can go anywhere and it can get there fast. Other people can repost something that is posted online in seconds. There is literally no way to account for how many eyes have seen the post. This makes it extremely hard and painful for the bullying victim who feels violated.
- Hard to stop
Once the victim recognizes a cyberbullying attack, it’s very difficult to delete pictures or posts from the internet. This leaves the victim feeling helpless.
The effects of cyberbullying
Cyberbullying victims experience embarrassment, humiliation, depression, anger, anxiety, and more. Cyberbullying can affect your self-esteem and even health. Be on the lookout for the following signs and be sure to seek help:
- You start withdrawing from spending time with family and friends
- You feel nervous (like butterflies in the stomach) when you receive text messages, emails, or log on to social media sites
- Your grades are dropping or you have lost interest in school
- You are avoiding activities you used to enjoy
If you are being bullied online:
Cyberbullying is a wholly different monster from the bullying in the past. It can become very intense as it seems there is no escaping it and there is no relief. If you are a victim of cyberbullying here are a few hints to help deal with it:
- Report it
Most of the time cyber bullying breaks school handbook rules or even some discrimination and harassment laws. Depending on the kind of bullying, you should report it to either your school or law enforcement. You should also report any incidents to the social media site that is being used. You may need to seek legal advice to know and understand your rights. For every incident of cyberbullying, do the following:
- Don’t reply
Leave any form or kind of cyberbullying alone. Do not reply to texts, or tweets, and do not respond in any way to social media.
Save all texts or emails–print them if you are able. Print any screenshots from any social media sites where the bullying has taken place. Cyberbullying attacks are likely to go on for a sustained period of time, don’t give up. Continue saving evidence for each and every cyberbullying attack.
- Block the bully
Block the bully from your social media sites, email, and even phone. This won’t guarantee complete freedom from the bullying–the bully can do whatever s/he wants on his/her own profiles. This will, however, save you from dealing with the constant bullying and will allow you to take care of yourself with the rest of these tips.
- Try looking at it differently
It really is true that those creating unhappiness for others are unhappy themselves. While it is not an easy thing to deal with and cyberbullying victims have every right to report bullying cases, it is important to keep a level mind. Those wreaking havoc on your life are doing so because of their own pain and unhappiness. Understanding that their intention is to make you feel as lousy as they do, make it your goal to leave them unsuccessful.
- Live your life
If you are living a happy and fulfilled life, you are less likely to have to fight the darker sides of being a cyberbullying victim. Spend time with those who support, uplift, and encourage you. Work, exercise, participate in extracurricular events, and make time for fun! Get out and enjoy your life. The cyber bully may stop if you continue to live your life and the bully is not getting what s/he wants.
- Develop coping skills
Being a victim of cyberbullying can really wear you out, even if you are trying to live a happy and fulfilled life. Cyberbullying victims are likely to experience low self-esteem, a lack of motivation, intense stress, and even depression. It is important to develop and strengthen ways to cope with these effects. Here are some coping strategies that some cyberbullying victims have used:
Exercise is a great way to work out stress and alleviate the symptoms and effects of depression. Find something that you enjoy doing whether it’s a yoga class, a good run, or kickboxing—find something you like that will get your heart pumping and help clear your mind.
If you are a spiritual person, seek spirituality. Meditate, pray, study, and work at developing a sense of inner peace.
- Figure out your needs
Learn more about yourself. Find out what helps you most. If you handle stress by getting together with your friends and having fun, make plans to do that as often as necessary. If you prefer quiet time at home, allow yourself that time. Make sure not to over-schedule yourself if that overwhelms you. You need to make time for what makes you happy.
- Get support
Fortunately and unfortunately, you are not alone in being a victim of cyberbullying. According to stopbullying.gov, the rates of cyberbullying are ever-increasing. There are hotlines and support groups available to cyberbullying victims. This will give you the opportunity to meet with others and hear their cyberbullying stories. You can find ways to help each other cope and it helps just to know you are not alone.
- Take action
There are many organizations today that are working hard to prevent cyberbullying and provide support to the victims. Get involved in these organizations and help make a difference.