Each one of us has been either victim of cyber bullying or bullied somebody or witnessed the bullying. Either as victim or bully, we have gone through the suffering that comes along with it.
At the face of it, bullying looks like aggressive behavior but it is not. Aggressive behavior can be provoked or is triggered by the event, it is an overt act. It can be identified easily and stopped.
Bullying is the intentional act of continuously harassing somebody either for fun or for hurting. Bullying cannot be identified easily as it always came under some kind of cover.
Cyberbullying happens by using the electronics technology, which includes usage of mobile /smartphones, laptops, desktops, those are connected to the internet.
Examples of cyberbullying are sending offensive e-mails, posting abusive messages on groups, texting mean messages, posting embarrassing pictures, videos on websites like WikiLeaks, etc.
Breeding Ground for Cyberbullying
The millennial generation who has grown up with technological innovations spends more time on the internet, virtually connecting to people than they spend time meeting people in person. Students, teenagers are using the internet not only for their studies and research but connecting to their friends, peers, and teachers over the social media.
Student, Teenagers are spending average nine hours a day on social platforms, 30% of this time is spent on the social media interactions. This has provided the breeding ground for cyberbullying.
Always online victims cannot escape from cyberbullying. The bully can remain anonymous in the maze of social media and hence it is difficult to identify him/her.
The latest research shows that more than half of all children are, at least on occasion, directly involved in bullying as a perpetrator, victim, or both. And many of those who are not directly involved witness others being bullied on a regular basis. No child is immune. Children of every race, gender, grade and socio-economic sector are impacted.
Following statistic, shows girls were more likely to have been bullied online at some point in their lifetime (though when looking at recent experiences there was no difference), while boys were more likely to have bullied others online as per the Cyberbullying Research Center.
Other than students and teenagers adults are also the victim of cyber bullying but they do not share the hurt and suffer in silence. Hence cyberbullying is mostly associated with students and teenagers.
Dark Side of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying impacts it’s victims psychologically and emotionally, resulting in adding lots of physical stress.
Recent statistics show:
- 20% of children and young people indicate fear of cyber bullies made them reluctant to go to school
- 5% reported self-harm
- 3% reported an attempt of suicide as a direct result of cyberbullying
- Young people are found to be twice as likely to be bullied on FB as any other social networking site.
- 28% of young people have reported incidents of cyberbullying on Twitter
- 26% of young people have reported incidents of cyberbullying on Ask.fm
These statistics are scary, many times it is difficult for victims to come forward and talk about it that is why it is important to understand the symptoms. If you have doubt about the victimization of your dear once look for following behavioral changes:
- Start isolating them
- Grades or work performance goes down
- Self-esteem goes down
- Prone to bad habits like drugs, alcohol
- Increased mental stress.
How to Tackle Cyber Bullying
We know bullying is a big problem which has reached to our doorsteps and we cannot avoid, so let us take look at how to deal with it squarely.
Dealing with bullying needs strong communication between students/ teenagers and parents. In the case of adults, it is important to have somebody with whom you can trust and speak without judgment.
Following are the few pointers to tackle bullying at early stages,
- Be a friend and philosopher – First and most important thing for having free-flowing communication is connect with your children. Make them aware of the risks of the online /virtual world. Foster the discussion around stories and cases around the online risk
- Rules need to be set for browsing – You need to set rules of online browsing, what time they will be using the internet, how long and which sites. Do not impose, discusses and mutually agree.
- Be a consultant to your kids – Your children should think that you know better about the mobile apps, you have up to date knowledge consult with you before installing an application. Spend some time on knowing the trends of applications your kid’s age group is using, do some research to make sure application is safe to use.
- Be a strong support – In case your kid is trapped in bullying, be there for them, and discusses it openly. Find out the person, take help of school /university and if required law and enforcement. Make sure that your kid knows that it is not their fault.
- Not only to protect our kids but to support the society, acquired the knowledge of Cyberbullying laws that are applicable to your state, country
Here are some inputs on the how the government is protecting the cyberbullying. In US 46 states have some form of law which has protection against cyberbullying. In Europe Poland and selected EU countries have cyberbullying legislation. In UK cyberbullying is crime comes under the protection and harassment act.
Like any other bullying, cyberbullying is becoming part of our society. We need to observe and identify if our near and dear once are getting victimized by it. The way to identify symptoms of bullying is to have close connection and communication. There are means and ways to stop bullying, first and the important is acknowledge and acceptance of getting bullied. Help them maintain their normal emotional and psychological state, if required take help of law and enforcement.