What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is a term that has only come in to existence in the last few years, but what is cyberbullying? Why do people do it? And most importantly, what can you do about it?
Cyberbulling is using any digital or online platform – so internet, email, online games or any other technology – to frighten, tease, upset or humiliate someone. Sadly, it is prevalent in today’s society with 56% of young people saying they have seen others bullied online and 42% have felt unsafe (source: www.bullying.co.uk).
What types of cyberbullying can occur?
Cyberbullying by its nature can encompass a number of things: sending offensive messages and being abusive, sending nasty posts on social networks about a person, being unkind in chat rooms or on gaming sites all constitutes harassment. Denigration is sharing fake, untrue information about/images of people. Flaming is an expression for when someone is offensive in the extreme about another person and trying to provoke an online ‘fight’. Outing or trickery occurs when a person tricks someone in to giving them sensitive information about themselves that the bully then forwards to others. Impersonation can take place if someone hacks social media accounts and thus someone’s online identity and post malicious content to others. Also, fake accounts can be opened to post offensive material.
Cyber stalking is the act of sending repeated threats, harassment or intimidating messages that make a person feel unsafe and afraid. Exclusion can happen when a person is deliberately left out of a group, be that a social network, mobile phone group or gaming site – this is very easy to do and a very common form of social bullying.
Why do people do this sort of thing?
We cannot underestimate the damage and upset such actions can cause. So why do people do it? This is a very difficult question to answer, and indeed why does anyone bully?
Cyberbullying specifically is sometimes carried out because it is a potentially ‘safe’ or easier way to bully. By not abusing your victim face to face, a person may feel more distance from what they are actually doing, and how much hurt and pain it is causing. Unkind messages or images can be sent very quickly in a world of instant technology – it can be done too easily and almost anonymously.
Are you being bullied on line?
So what can you do if you are being bullied online? Any king of bullying can make a person feel helpless. But it’s imperative to know you don’t have to go through it alone.
Telling someone that you trust is the first thing to do.
Keep a record of the bullying or keep the messages you’ve been sent and do not reply or comment on anything you receive as this could just make the bullying worse.
Remember, bullying itself is not against the law, but some of its behaviour may be illegal – tell the police if it’s serious.
Staying safe online is also key – seek advice and information about staying safe online, including how to block people, be very cautious in chat rooms and never give personal information away about yourself. Use unusual passwords for any accounts you may have and be sure to sign out of any web service you use, at home or elsewhere.
For more advice and information on bullying visit: www.childline.org.uk www.bullying.co.uk www.nspcc.org.uk
Or give Tony a call at OK Our Kids to arrange a talk for your school or personal assistance in combating bullying.