When electronic technology is used, such as the Internet, to bully an individual it is referred to as cyber bullying. This can occur on any type of device by which the Internet can be accessed such as computers, tablets, cell phones, and other handheld devices. There are a number of ways cyber bullying can occur including the receipt of disparaging emails or text messages, negative postings on social media networks, embarrassing rumors being passed through email or text, fake profiles or websites being created, and embarrassing pictures or videos being created.
What is Cyberbullying?
It is not uncommon for children or teens who are being cyber bullied to be bullied in person, as well. Additionally, it is difficult for these same children to remove themselves from this type of negative behavior. There is no time limit to when cyber bullying can occur because the Internet never turns off. Therefore, it can occur seven days per week around the clock.
The problem with the Internet is many of the cyber bullies can post their messages and images anonymously, and a lot of people can see these postings quickly. If the cyber bully is savvy on the Internet, it can be virtually impossible to trace who is posting and where they are posting from. Once a disparaging or embarrassing message is posted or sent, it becomes very difficult for the victim to delete this information.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Cyber Bullying?
Cyber bullying cannot be blamed upon computers and cell phones alone. There are many positive benefits to using computers, as well as to the use of social media websites. Through use of social media, students can work together on homework, families can effectively communicate with each other, and friends can actively stay connected in a positive manner. However, these positive tools can also be used as methods of causing harm to people as well. No matter if the harm is caused in person or over the Internet, the effects are very similar to one another.
The Common Effects of Cyber Bullying in Teens:
- Be more inclined to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
- Want to miss school more often, or ask to be absent more often because they are “sick.”
- See a decline in their grades when they were previously doing well.
- Have a lower self-esteem when they previously felt good about themselves.
- Skip school when they previously had good attendance and no previous infractions.
- Experience bullying face-to-face inside and outside of school.
- Experience more issues with cyber bullying than just one or two instances.
- Are sick more often when they were previously a healthy person.
How Can Teens Be Protected From Cyber Bullying?
You can take preventative measures, but you cannot control what other people are doing in other households. While it would be great to go to the other parents and tell them to stop their children from doing what they are doing, this is not always the best solution. The best solution is to stop what is going on within your own household first. The first step is to install monitoring software that will not only allow you to see what is going on when your child is online, but will allow you to install parental controls. The next step is to set up ground rules for your children to include not sharing any personal information online. In addition to this step, it is a good idea to “follow” them on all the social media websites they are a member of. That way, you can see who is talking to them and report or block any issues as they occur.
When you see your child being cyber bullied, keep all the evidence and file a report immediately. This evidence will not only help you understand what is going on, but also answer the question, “what is cyberbullying.” That type of proactive step will help stop the bully in their tracks. Ask your child not to respond to the bully at all both online and in person. Sometimes the child will have a theory as to who the bully is even if they are making anonymous posts, but it is best to leave these situations up to the authorities. This is especially true if threats of violence are made against your child. Make sure that the police and that your child’s school are both contacted.