What is cyber bullying?
Cyber bullying sometimes also called as online bullying, can be defined as the use of technology to deliberately hurt, threaten, upset, harass or embarrass someone else. It can be an extension of face-to-face bullying, with the technology offering the bully another route for harassing their victim, or can be simply without motive.
Cyber bullying can occur using any form of connected media, from nasty text and image messages using mobile phones, to unkind blog and social networking posts, or emails and instant messages, to malicious websites created solely for the purpose of intimidating an individual or virtual abuse during an online multiplayer game.
Cyber bullying differs from other forms of bullying in several ways:
Because of its faceless nature there is often a perceived anonymity to cyber bullying. This can lead to people becoming involved in activities that they wouldn’t dream of in the real world.
Because many kids are reluctant to report being bullied, even to their parents, it’s impossible to know just how many are affected. But recent studies about cyber bullying rates have found that about 1 in 5 teens have been the victims of cyber bullying, and about 1 in 6 admit to having cyber bullied someone. In some studies, more than half of the teens surveyed said that they’ve experienced abuse through social and digital media.
Severe, long-term, or frequent cyber bullying can leave both victims and bullies at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and other stress-related disorders. In some rare but highly publicized cases, some kids have turned to suicide. Experts say that kids who are bullied — and the bullies themselves — are at a higher risk for suicidal thoughts, attempts, and completed suicides. Because of that certain types of cyber bullying can be considered crimes.
Key issues to be aware of cyber bullying
The key difference between cyber bullying and face-to-face bullying is that it can be relentless in its nature. Few years back when young people had less connectivity with internet, bullying would stop at the school gate or the front door with the home providing a safe net, this is no longer the case. But today young people are connected with the internet 24/7 , which also means they can be contacted and bullied with the same intensity.
The issue of revealing too much personal information is one of the greatest concerns associated with online technologies today, and can increase the risk of harassment or cyber bullying. Personal information, whether in the form of text or images, can be used and manipulated by bullies.
Another key issue is respecting the privacy of others. In the same way that all technology users should be mindful of revealing too much information about themselves, they should also be mindful of what their online postings and interactions reveal about others.
This can work both ways in terms of cyber bullying: young people may be a target of cyber bullying as a result of their online postings about others, or could indeed themselves cross the fine line between engaging in ‘fun’ online, to causing someone else hurt and distress through their comments and actions. The best rule is to always treat others online as you wish to be treated yourself.
What are the ways that cyber bullying could happen?
Mobile phones are a key tool associated with cyber bullying. Being such a private and personal device, they can offer a direct route for the bully to access their target, any time. The camera capabilities of most mobile phones can further aggravate the risk of cyber bullying. Images or video can be taken, perhaps even without the subject’s knowledge or consent, and quickly circulated or posted online. This can further add to the distress of the victim.
Chat-based services have also been associated with cyber bullying, with postings starting of as ‘online fun’ sometimes crossing the line into more serious, and prolonged, verbal attacks.
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