Kids definitely do and say things online that they wouldn’t otherwise do in person. It is called Cyber Bullying! But Why Cyberbullying?

The internet gives them the illusion of being invisible.  They think it is unlikely that they will get caught, and so it’s okay to say or do whatever they want.  Because they don’t immediately see or hear results of their attacks, they may not feel empathy towards their victims.  What makes cyber bullying so much more hurtful is that it is public and long-lasting on the web, resulting in long-term pain and humiliation.

There have been a few attempts at delving deeper into the mind of the cyber bully in order to explain their motives. According to the 2007 Executive Research Summary Teens and Cyber bullying produced by the National Crime Prevention Council, when teens were asked why they attacked or harassed someone online, 81% of them said they thought it was funny, while the rest said they didn’t think it was a big deal, they didn’t think about the consequences, they were encouraged by friends, they thought everyone did the same (ie: everybody bullies people online), or they thought they wouldn’t get caught, so “why not?”

New studies published in the book, “Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard” by Hinduja and Patchin, charts the following reasons why youth bully online: 22% were motivated by revenge,18.7% said the victim deserved it, 10.6 % said they did it for fun, 3.9% hated the victim, 3.5% were pressured by peers, 2.8% retaliated against a bully, 2.5% were motivated by venting anger, and 5.7% had other reasons.

We think the following reasons compliment the former data on Cyber Bullying, here to understanding Why Cyber Bullying : 

  1. Free speech: Nancy Willard, Director of the Centre for Safe and Responsible Internet Use suggests that there is a new social online norm wherein users think, “My free speech rights are superior to all other rights.  On the internet, I have the right to say anything I want about others regardless of any invasion of their privacy or harm inflicted by my statements.”
  2. Fitting in:  Some kids think that everyone is doing it, so they do it to fit in and be just like others.  They convince themselves that they aren’t really causing any harm; that they’re “just kidding.” 
  3. Attack for defense: Some teens bully in an effort to protect themselves from being attacked first.  Kids who are bullied, teased or ignored at school or in other face-to-face situations don’t feel comfortable reacting in person, but take out their feelings online in retaliation with more abusive responses. They attack back and become bullies themselves.
  4. Jealousy and peer acceptance: Peer acceptance and jealousy were common motives. For girls, jealousy was often related to cliques. A best friend would meet someone outside their clique; as a result, result the girl would cyber bully her together with the other girls of the group.
  5. Revenge: A revenge motive is also frequently occurring, for example, to get back at someone who said something out of line at school to the cyber bully or a friend of the cyber bully. Friends or romantic couples took revenge after a rejection or break up of their relationships.
  6. Entertainment: Entertainment and the need for resources were mentioned, but not often. Adolescents who were motivated by getting control over resources commanded their victim to do their homework in their stead.

Hidden, masked with avatars, behind computer screens, and armed with keyboards, cyber bullies need to be taught that attacking someone for no reason, or for a reason, is by no means any good. By understanding the psyches of bullying, we can understand how to effectively deal with them and devise prevention programs that could hopefully eradicate cyber bullying before it evolves into a phenomenon that targets a potentially harmonious cyber space. We need enough power to stop cyber bullying .

Learn more on how to prevent cyber bullying for you and your loved ones.