As the Internet and online social networks continue to grow so does cyberbullying aka social bullying. Cyber bullying can take on many forms. Keep reading to learn what cyber bullying is, the different types of cyber bullies, and tips on how to stop cyber bullying of children and teens.
When we think of bullying, we often think about physical altercations, or perhaps verbal abuse from others. However, this in not the only form of bullying. As the Internet becomes more popular, and as online communities become more tight-knit and more prevalent, bullying is popping up in cyber space. Cyber bullying can be just as devastating as bullying in real life. Indeed, in some cases cyber bullying is an extension of bullying already endured in the “real world” at school.
What is Cyber Bullying?
Cyberbullying is when a child or teenager is harassed, humiliated, embarrassed, threatened or tormented (bullied) using digital technology. This is not limited to the Internet; cyber bullying also encompasses bullying done through such things as text messages using mobile devices. It is important to note that cyber bulling can only happen between minors. When an adult is harassing children or teenagers, it is known as cyber harassment or cyber stalking.
Cyber bullying is often a systemic attempt to get another child or teen to feel bad about him or her self through electronic communication. It usually happens more than once, and includes leaving demeaning messages on someone’s Facebook page (social bullying), uploading embarrassing photos, or spreading gossip or rumors through instant messaging and text messaging. There are a number of ways to humiliate and threaten children online. And because the damage is often psychological, and carries over into the real world, the threats posed by cyber bullying can be very real. There have been cases where cyber bullying has led to severe depression, self harm and even suicide.
Different kinds of cyber bullies
While some of the traits of cyber bullies are similar to more traditional bullies, it is important to note that there are some differences. Some cyber bullies are victims of real word bullying, and go online and bully others to feel powerful. Others are bullies offline, and want to extend their sphere of influence and power to the online world. Other cyber bullies just want to show that they can do certain things online to show off.
It is important to look for signs that your child is being bullied or is a cyber bully. In both cases, it is important to stop the problem by looking for causes of the bullying behavior. The motives for cyber bullying are rather wide ranging, so it is important to find out the reasons behind the behavior so that a solution can be found. Additionally, it may be necessary to help children and teenagers involved by getting them counseling and helping them understand how to overcome the problem.
It is important that parents play a role in stopping cyber bullying and the social bully. Indeed, it is vital that parents pay attention and be open with their children and invite their confidences. If your child is a cyber bully, you should make clear rules about appropriate online behavior, and have consequences, such as losing accounts or computer time, if they break the rules. You can work with schools to help stop cyber bullying, and work with other parents to try and prevent it. Make sure your child knows that he or she can come to you if there is a problem online.
In some cases, it is possible to get law enforcement involved – especially if an adult becomes involved and brings the level of offence to cyber stalking or cyber harassment. It is vital that your child comes to you when cyber bullying takes place. It is usually possible to print the screen showing the offending action. Additionally, it is possible to trace the IP address of the user, and locate the computer from which the cyber bullying is taking place. This can help prevent further incidents.
Ultimately, though, it is important that your community as a whole takes a stand against cyber bullying, teaching kids to treat each other with respect, and to see that it is unacceptable when others are being hurt or harassed by a social bullies.