Cyber Bullying, That term has been used quite a bit in recent years. Although it’s become more common, there is still some confusion on what it really means. What exactly is cyber bullying and what are the effects of cyberbullying? This is when someone uses technology and electronic devices to do mean things, such as start rumours, post embarrassing things on social media, or send inappropriate content or text messages meant to incite violence in some way. These “bullies” use any kind of device they can to get the word out – computers, phones, tablets, chat rooms, through online gaming and social media sites.
When cyber bullying occurs, it is usually followed by negative effects which sometime have dire consequences. The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey showed that 16% of students in grades 9-12 were cyber bullied in the past year. Additionally, the 2008-2009 School Crime Supplement showed 6% of students in grades 6-12 had encountered some form of cyber bullying. With access to so many tools that could potentially do harm, safety is a primary concern.
The Effects of CyberBullying
The effects of cyberbullying may not be noticeable at first, but the stress factor builds up over time. Many students experiencing cyber bullying feel alone and scared. In most instances, cyber bullying doesn’t start online, but in person. The situation then escalates. Some of the signs of cyber bullying could be:
- Not wanting to go to school
- A sharp drop in grades and performance
- Skipping school
- Sudden self-esteem issues
- Complaints of illnesses
- Use of alcohol or drugs
More Effects of CyberBullying
Cyber bullying is a very serious matter. Students have taken their own lives because they felt pressured, embarrassed and felt they had no other alternatives. With so many technology devices available and the cyber world virtually unsupervised, there is a lot of room to someone to act maliciously. What to do if you’ve been cyber bullied? The first thing that usually has a positive impact is communication. If you’re a student, talk to an adult and explain how you’re feeling and what has been happening. If you’re a parent or adult, start random conversations about cyber bullying and what to do if it occurs, especially if you’re recognizing symptoms. Sometimes the student may not want to say anything in fear of the ramifications. By starting a healthy, non-threatening dialogue, it could make the difference between a positive or negative consequence. Other things that can be done:
- Don’t give out passwords (computer, cell, social media)
- Do not share anything personal with anyone that could potentially put it on the internet. That includes pictures, secrets or information on others that you may have.
- Save the messages or postings as proof.
- Block the person doing the cyber bullying.
- Turn off your technology – this is IMPORTANT. Sometimes, you need to take a break and step away from being engaged all the time.
Although cyber bullying is associated with negative implications, there are some positive outcomes. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has an initiative to counteract cyber bullying. There are also many organizations that encourage healthy dialogue and offer solutions to situations that may occur. Here at Nobullying.com, we advocate for educating, advising and counseling individuals who are concerned with the effects of cyber bullying. Take a stand with us to fight for what’s right. Someone’s future depends on it.
The Effects of Cyber Bullying: Five Steps To Take Action Today
If you want to know what to do about the effects of cyber bullying, here are five steps you can take to protect yourself and your family today to prevent such atrocities:
- Report EVERY incident of bullying, no matter how small. This does not mean that you have to go to federal court with a minor incident. But it DOES mean that you should take every incident seriously and take the appropriate actions to prevent it from happening to someone else.
- Consider the source and report to network administrators, as well as authorities. When an incident occurs online, you have the right to report this to system or network administrators and let them know what happened, when, who it involved, and other information. Local police should be told too, especially if it involves a local juvenile or adult. But often the system administrator of the online site in which the bullying occurred will be best able to help. They will also be able to identify the culprits of the bullying so that you can report the names to proper authorities.
- Install kid monitoring software on your computers. This is controversial in some parenting circles but it may be your best line of defense when it comes to protecting your child from such attacks. By monitoring the behavior and sites visited of your child while online, you can get an idea of the patterns that preceded the incident and this can be valuable information to use to tell authorities should bullying reach higher levels.
- Have a “zero tolerance” policy against cyber bullying. Explain to your children that you will neither tolerate their being bullied NOR will you tolerate their bullying of other children online. Just like in the real world, they all need to understand that bullying is harassment when it occurs off campus and is punishable by civil courts and the law.
- Get involved. Perhaps the best thing parents can do in this day and age of cyber bullying and online social media, where access is so easy and quick is to get involved in what your child is doing. This is just good parenting and involves a lot more than asking what they did at school. Really probe and find out who their friends are, what is on their mind, and why their grades have fallen. Often falling grades is the result of something that is worrying a child and you may need to take up some things with the school counselor in order to get to the bottom of it.