What is Cyberbullying and How to Stop it

  • By Rita
  • Apr 01, 2022

What is Cyberbullying?

The internet is an excellent medium for users to connect with people. It promotes global communication. However, it also harbors the risk of cyberbullying. It is important to know how to prevent cyberbullying, especially if you are a parent.

Cyberbullying statistics

Cyberbullying often transpires within the teenage community. Here are some cyberbullying facts you probably didn’t know. Sadly, 37% of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 are bullied online. In addition, 60% of this community have witnessed this online harassment without intervening.

Many believe cyberbullying takes place privately. But, most of it occurs publicly. Instagram holds the highest rate of cyberbullying. A whopping 42% of its users have reported harassment on the app. Online bullying also takes place on various other social media. These include Facebook, Twitter, gaming platforms, and even online schooling websites. 

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is the act of repeatedly harassing an individual through electronic devices. This form of bullying is a much more complex issue to identify than traditional bullying. 

With traditional bullying, it’s easy to spot when bullies are ganging up on a victim. Signs like bruising are a dead give-away. Unfortunately, cyberbullying hides behind privacy and discretion, so bullies get away with it a lot more.

Still, it is no less harmful than traditional bullying. This form of bullying doesn’t involve physically harming another individual. However, it may still cause tremendous psychological damage. 

Cyberbullying is especially harmful because most information on the internet is permanent. For example, the bully might post hurtful rumors, videos, or pictures on social media for everyone to see. These viewers may comment on their own opinions or share the information, which will cause harm to the victim. 

Types of Cyberbullying 

Before you can work on preventing cyberbullying, you need to understand the different types of cyberbullying. This will help you recognize which factors to look for when advocating against bullying. 

  • Harassment - Continuously sending unwanted, offensive, or hurtful messages to an individual. This is known as text-based harassment. 
  • Exclusion - Purposefully excluding someone to hurt their feelings or make them feel like an outcast. 
  • Trickery - This involves tricking someone into revealing private or embarrassing information. The bully will then share this information online. 
  • Outing - This is when an individual willfully shares private information about someone on a digital platform. It is usually done to harm or embarrass that person.
  • Cyberstalking - is the act of harassing someone by repeatedly sending insults and threats. A severe subcategory of this is online sexual harassment. It includes frequent threats of assault. The individual may even receive unwanted sexually explicit images and texts.
  • Dissing - This is when one spreads false rumors about someone to ruin their reputation and friendships. 

Why Does Cyberbullying Occur? 

Cyberbullies strive to make their victims feel intimidated, embarrassed, and ashamed. They also do it to gain control over that individual. 

Anonymity happens to be on their side, so there are barely any consequences. Most cyberbullies are brave enough to commit these actions for this reason.

Why is it Harmful? 

Effects of cyberbullying

Cyberbullying can be very harmful to the victims for many reasons. The effects of cyberbullying are often adverse and long-lasting. Here are some reasons why this form of bullying is destructive: 

  • It is Permanent. Many employers do online background checks on their potential employees. If they find negative information - rumors, images, or videos, it lowers their chances of getting hired. 
  • There is Rarely an Escape From the Digital World. Many people rely on social media as a source of knowledge. Some need it to communicate with loved ones as well. Unfortunately, cyberbullies use those same platforms to harass others. So, the harassment can follow them wherever they go. 
  • It Affects the Victim’s Mental Health. Cyberbullying often makes the victims feel depressed, worthless, and in more severe cases - suicidal. They also tend to have lower self-esteem and self-respect. 
  • It Affects Their Physical Well-Being. Cyberbullying also causes adverse physical effects on victims. These include tension headaches, loss of sleep, stomach aches, and more. 
  • It May Cause Them to Feel Suicidal. Both victims and perpetrators are more likely to attempt suicide than those who weren’t bullied. This is why we must stand against it and know how to prevent cyberbullying. 

Signs of Cyberbullying 

We’ve discussed the effects of cyberbullying, but these effects aren’t noticeable. Unless the victim opens up about their feelings, nobody will know. However, key signs may help you recognize when someone is being cyberbullied. These include: 

  • Seeming upset or distant after using the internet or online media. 
  • Spending more or less time than usual online - gaming or texting. 
  • Having multiple email addresses, phone numbers, or texts on their digital devices. 
  • Being secretive about who they’re talking to and what they’re doing on social media. 

How to Stop Cyberbullying 

If you’re anxious about being a victim of this type of harassment, follow these tips on how to prevent cyberbullying. Similarly, if you’re a concerned educator or parent, teach your students or children to follow these safety precautions.

  1. Keep Your Contact Details Private

    Refrain from sharing your contact details on social media. This will prevent people you don’t know from contacting and potentially harassing you. It’s also good not to upload your email address and phone number to your social media profiles.

  2. Don't Share Inappropriate Pictures and Videos

    Take into consideration that most things on the internet are permanent. No matter how much you trust someone, do not share inappropriate images and videos with that person. Here’s why: 

    • They may end up posting that content online for everyone to see. 
    • They may use the content to blackmail or threaten you.
    • They may be sharing that content with friends. 
    • Yours or their phone may get hacked, and the content you’ve shared will be in the hands of someone you don’t know.
  3. Use Site-Based Settings

    Play around with your settings on social media apps. Allow yourself to take advantage of your power in social media. Here are a few things you may be able to control within certain apps: 

    • Control who can follow you. 
    • Manage who will be able to see your profile. 
    • Set your messages or chats to self-destruct after a certain amount of time. 
    • Filter who can private message you. 
    • Limit the comments you receive or switch them off completely. 
    • Block or report people who make you feel uncomfortable. 
  4. Be Careful Who You Trust

    Be skeptical of the people you interact with online. While connections feel real, it’s risky to share too much information with that person. You have no idea if that person is who they say they are or if they’re alone.

  5. Keep Your Online Information Protected

    When using digital accounts on public computers, make sure you log out of them when you finish. Someone else might go through your account and find your private information if left signed in. 

    This will create an opportunity for them to blackmail or threaten you. Alternatively, they could share the information without doing the actions above. This is usually done to be funny or mischievous. 

    Moreover, you must not share passwords with anyone, even if they’re someone you trust. Ensure that you have a passcode for your phone as well. This way, no one can access your accounts. 

  6. Don't Respond to Mean People

    Responding to mean people could lead to an array of problems. They may end up sharing your responses out of context to make you look bad. In other cases, they could be annoying you simply for their entertainment. 

    Cyberbullies aim to make life miserable for others. Don’t feed into this habit. Rather avoid these bullies altogether. 

    Eventually, they will leave you alone. Another thing you can do is report and block them. This will prevent others from dealing with the same problem.

  7. Practice Internet Etiquette

    Think twice about the way you talk online. Sometimes the way you type or phrase sentences can be misunderstood by others. 

    For example, typing in all caps may seem like you are shouting. Some of your captions or comments may even sound sarcastic. 

    This could cause conflict with other social media users. They may send hurtful comments to you and use harmful language. It may even lead to them spreading rumors about you. 

  8. Report Cyberbullying

    Cyberbullying usually goes against social media’s terms of use. For this reason, you can report cyberbullies to online service providers. However, some forms of cyberbullying can be quite severe and should be reported to law enforcement. These include: 

    • Hate crimes and stalking. 
    • Child pornography or sending sexually explicit messages. 
    • Threats of violence. 
    • Taking unconsented pictures or videos of someone in their private space. 

    Remember to keep evidence of this behavior. Online service providers will use this to take action against the cyberbully. Evidence can include taking screenshots and recording dates and descriptions of the incidents.

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