Cyberbullying is much like playground bullying in the sense that it involves saying or doing mean things only that it has more far-reaching consequences. Using technology to embarrass, harass, intimidate or target a teen or preteen is defined as cyberbullying. It is normally initiated by a minor him/herself. When adults become involved, it no longer remains cyber bullying….it is then labeled as cyber-harassment or cyberstalking and may have legal implications and involve jail time.
The extent of cyberbullying is only limited by the technology used and the imagination of the bully. The use of technology could range from using a mobile phone to send threatening messages and posting hurtful comments over the internet to humiliating and targeting someone using interactive and digital technology. It may also include the usage of communication tools such as social media websites, chat rooms and IM’s text messaging to spread rumors or embarrassing information about the victim.
Cyberbullying has been on the rise over the years. This can be traced to greater freedom of social networking and mobile usage enjoyed by the youth of today. In a 2018 survey of students ages 11 to 18 administered by the Cyberbullying Research Center, 20 percent said they had been cyberbullied. Among the same sample group, 20 percent of students reported engaging in cyberbullying behavior at least once. Ten percent of the group surveyed said they had been both the victim and the bully at different points in their lives.
Why does Cyberbullying happen?
At this point, where there is a need to develop methods of prevention, there is a parallel need to probe into the reasons why more and more youngsters are engaging in this activity.
All of us have good and evil sides. Our actions are motivated by emotions like love, anger, passion, hatred, anxiety or frustration. In the real world, however, we all have a reputation and a set of social barriers that restrict the outright display of our inner feelings and emotions. We always react according to the situation and keeping the consequences in mind. In the online world, however, a very obvious advantage enjoyed by the bullies is ‘anonymity’. Behind the screen of a computer, tablet or mobile phone, the bully may use a fake i.d. or impersonate the victim him/herself to say mean things and defame him/her. There is no risk of losing one’s reputation or facing the victim for one’s actions. However, unlike traditional bullying, the comments and pictures posted on the internet can spread widely and can be a source of great emotional distress for the victim, leading many toward suicidal thoughts and a few to actually commit suicide itself.
Sometimes, cyberbullying may be the result of an accident when a message is sent to the wrong recipient. At other times, it may be a creation of a devil’s mind who has a lot of time and gadgets on his hand. Still, others do it for fun as they cannot see the direct consequences of their actions. Some do it to satisfy their ego and to show it off as a sign of power. Whatever the motive, cyberbullying is a result of an interplay of diverse, wicked emotions that lose their natural balance and keep the bully on a string.
Statistics report that girls are more likely to be bullied than the boys. This may be because girls are emotional by nature and readily believe in others, increasing their vulnerability to bullying, both in the offline as well as the online world.
Psychology of a Cyberbully:
Research shows that cyberbullies suffer from a host of mental and psychological problems. They might be victims of aggression at home and victimize others as a reaction. Some children may have a very high opinion of themselves and may not be ready to submit. As a result, they try to enforce their opinions on others leading to anti-social behaviors at home as well as bullying episodes online. They normally have trouble following rules and are quite insensitive to the feelings of others. They have greater chances of failing in school, taking up substance abuse and becoming criminals later in life.
How to deal with Cyber Bullying?
If we analyze justly, no human is born evil. What we become in life is a product of our genes and our environment. Children who are raised in broken families and in an environment devoid of love, care and support are more likely to develop negativity in their minds and attitudes. It is the responsibility of every parent to develop a healthy bond with their child and inculcate positive traits in them. A friendly relation would allow your children will feel free to openly converse with you regarding problems at school and home. No matter how busy you are, do take out the time to listen to your child. In this way, pent up feelings will be spent and negative forces will not find a lonely mind to make room for themselves. Remember that prevention is always better than cure, so it’s better to nip the problem in the bud before its too late