Bullying and cyberbullying are becoming a major concern nowadays for people, especially teenagers/adolescents. Bullying can occur at schools, colleges and even work places. Even though cyberbullying might seem “less impactful” than traditional bullying, it is equally bad and can have worse consequences.
Cyberbullying is defined as intended and repeated harm caused by communication via the use of computers, mobile phones and other electronic devices.
- cruel messages to a person
- threatening a person or their family members
- sharing embarrassing information/pictures of a person on social media
- public humiliation, etc
Even commenting something threatening or vulgar under a person’s pictures/posts is considered as cyberbullying. People, especially women, receive vulgar talks and harassment threats and texts. The main kinds of cyber harassment are demanding inappropriate pictures of women and young girls and if they refuse, they may end up getting blackmailed, endangering their security or their loved ones’.
Another kind of “entertaining” and a creepy cyberbullying method is to pretend to be someone else, which is basically creating a fake account using the picture and name of another person. This form of cyberbullying is called ‘catfishing’ common among the youngsters. Catfishing includes texting inappropriately to the original individual’s friends & family and involving in gross and rude conversations, which happens almost everyday on social media apps like Instagram, Facebook, etc. Catfishing may not only be used for cyber harassment. There have been many cases of catfishing, where the person creating the fake account has stolen money from organisations and even people. Catfishing is also commonly used to track down and catch criminals by involving in a conversation with them pretending to be someone else.
When compared to face-to-face bullying, the bully has many advantages in doing cyberbullying instead. One of the most important advantages is anonymity. In direct bullying, the victim is easily aware of who the person bullying him/her is. So there is no way that the bullies can get away with it if the victim reports them. But when cyberbullying takes place, the internet provides the bullies with a safe blanket of protection called anonymity. So the victim may not know who exactly is behind sending the messages. The bully takes advantage of this fact and may ask/threaten the victims with more vigour and seriousness.
The second advantage is the larger audience the bully can approach. Not many people can get bullied face-to-face as it’s just selective ones who get bullied. Whereas on social media, cyber harassment/bullying takes place to almost everyone. The next advantage is the 24/7 connection with the victim. Usually in direct bullying, it’s relatively easier for the victim to avoid or take action against the bully. But in the cyberworld, till the time both are connected in some way, the victim is always a target.
According to a study conducted by “Ditch the label”, Instagram and Facebook users were the ones who faced more cyberharassment. The same study also found that 69% of the people admitted to have harassed or pranked a person online and 15% admitted to have cyberbullied many people on social media.
Cyberbullying and harassment can have serious effects on the victims. People experience a variety of psychological and emotional consequences and can even face anxiety and self-doubt. Teens experiencing bullying in general, be it traditional or cyber, show poor academic performance and show stress, fear, etc. Emotionally distressed people should immediately reach out to their loved ones and get their help and/or should report the situation to the respective services.
Facing or not facing cyberbullying and online pressures are not in the hands of people, but one should do their best to prevent it. It is safer to have the social media accounts as private in order to keep track of followers & following. Teens should be careful about the people to whom they share their pictures. The thoughts of a bully cannot be changed, so people should be aware and precautionary of their actions. Parents of children and teens should always watch out for their kids’ actions and if they are found getting bullied or harassed online, the victims should be calmed and the bully should be blocked or recorded as evidence.