As technology continues to consume our lives, we are faced with new and difficult challenges. Cyber bullying is on the rise and affects all age groups who use this technology that we are becoming attached to, but it especially affects teenagers. Bullying has been around for a long time, but cyber bullying is only really a few years old.
Bullying, in any sense, is the intent to cause harm to someone. Face-to-face bullying includes verbal and physical bullying. Cyber bullying is the use of technology to deliberately harass or harm someone. As we all know, cyber bullying can be just as devastating and destructive as face-to-face bullying, if not more so because everyone can see the bullying in most cases. When adults participate in cyber bullying it is generally referred to cyber harassment or cyber stalking, but is still cyber bullying.
Cyber bullying can include, but is certainly not limited to:
- Spreading gossip about someone (true or not)
- Making fun of someone (for any reason)
- Being verbally abusive
- Telling someone they are fat, ugly, worthless, etc.
- Sexual harassment
- Saying something out of revenge
- Telling lies
- Pretending to be someone else
This is a real problem because individuals, especially teenagers, don’t understand the ramifications bullying of any kind can have on a person.
- Some ramifications of bullying include, but are not limited to:
- Lead to anorexia / bulimia
- Withdraw from friends, family, and society
- Could turn the individual around to start bullying others
- Low self-esteem
- Low confidence
- Sense of insecurity
- Stress (which causes additional health issues)
- Fuels prejudices
- Can even lead to suicidal thoughts, or suicide itself
I don’t believe that all bullies set out with intentions to make the person commit suicide, but this can, and has, happened.
Unfortunately, kids who are being bullied at school are more likely to have the bullying continue through the technology they use. Cyber bullying can be, and usually is, much worse than face-to-face bullying for several reasons:
- 24/7 bullying – it doesn’t stop when the bell rings at school
- It can build over weeks or months as it progresses online instead of being stopped by adults at school
- Bullies and their targets don’t necessarily fit ‘normal’ bullies and targets that are viewed as ‘normal’ at school
- The bullying can be anonymous (or can look like they’re coming from someone they aren’t) through the creation of fake email and social media accounts
- Bystanders (those viewing the messages that aren’t intended for them) can become bullies just by passing along or reposting the messages
- Cyber bullying can provide specific evidence that face-to-face bullying cannot (when you post something online, it’s there forever)
- Messages can be interpreted differently by different people, and someone not intending to be a bully but just send something as a joke can be considered a bully
- Cyber bullying can escalate very quickly and on a large scale because of the ability to easily transmit messages via social media
Bullying of any form is illegal and just plain wrong. If you feel that you are being bullied, either face-to-face or via cyber bullying, please tell someone. Tell a police officer, your parents, your teacher, your significant other, anyone. Put a stop to the bullying before it affects you for the rest of your life!
Have you been bullied? How did you stop it?