Cyber-bullying has grown in recent years with the amount of people, particularly at younger ages, have developed large on line and social media presences. The term, cyber-bullying, refers to a broad set of activities and treatment of others through an on line, cellular, or gaming medium. Cases of cyber-bullying are serious and can cause significant harm and psychological damage to the targeted individual, and all instances of cyber-bullying should be reported to the appropriate entities.

What is Cyber-Bullying and Where Can it Happen?

 young teenage girl crying in front of the laptop on white background.

young teenage girl crying in front of the laptop on white background.

There are many ways people can be cyber-bullied and through many avenues, which can lead to people feeling vulnerable in the use of their phone, computer, tablet, or gaming system. Cyber-bullying can occur through direct on line or phone contact, as well as other forms of manipulation on various forms of social media, social messaging apps, and on line gaming platforms.

Cyber-bullying can be broadly categorised and include many specific behaviours and mistreatment including; harassment, denigration, flaming, trolling, impersonation, outing and trickery, cyber-stalking, exclusion, rumour spreading, threats and blackmail, and inappropriate imagery. Instances of cyber-bullying often include a combination of behaviours and activities that target single individuals, groups of people, or people with a targeted identity of the perpetrator.

The types of cyber-bullying can be difficult to identify, however each category can be defined by certain characteristics. Harassment includes sending or posting offensive and inappropriate messages, generally unwanted or abusive behaviour towards another. Denigration occurs when an individual shares, posts, or forwards information or rumours about another person or in some way attempting to defame or gossip about others. Flaming is the term used to refer to the use of excessive profanity or extremely offensive language and getting in to fights or disputes that cause others distress. The term trolling means that an individual is repeatedly posting to another’ profiles, typically in response to particular posts or subjects. Impersonation is when someone hacks into or creates a fake account in order to pose as another individual, often posting or sending embarrassing or inappropriate material. Cyber-stalking is the act of contacting and following a person utilising the Internet or other type of media. Exclusion, also a form of social bullying, is when a person is intentionally withheld access from on line forums or gaming sites.

How Can You Help Prevent Cyber-Bullying

Be aware of who you allow access to your social media accounts such as Facebook, and utilise the site’s various security features to ensure your profile and account are not open to the public. Be sure to develop secure and unusual passwords, utilising a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Make sure to never share your usernames or passwords with others, even if they are trusted friends or family. If you use a public computer be sure not to save any passwords or usernames and always make sure you have signed out of any programs that you have logged in to.

Do not engage in bullying behaviour yourself, or support those who might be actively cyber-bullying others. You should take care and be careful of the things you post on line, whether they be personal information or photos relating to yourself or others. Remember that once information is put on line, it will remain there forever, even if you attempt to delete it a trace of it will remain. Do not ignore cases of cyber-bullying that you may be witness to on line, as everyone is responsible for addressing this serious issue.

What to do if You Experience Cyber-Bullying

There are numerous websites and organisations dedicated to addressing the issue of cyber-bullying. By visiting their websites you can learn more about what constitutes cyber-bullying, ways it can be addressed, and who to contact. Adults can be targets of cyber-bullying, but if you are a minor you should inform your parents or another trusted adult in order to help you address the issue. Depending on the severity of the issue, there are numerous laws related to on line bullying, harassment, and threatening behaviours.

It is important to save any conversations, images, or other instances of cyber-bullying in order to provide as evidence of the interaction.There are many potential consequences for cyber-bullying, either through the law or through various school policies and procedures. Often the parties involved can seek resolution through programs such as restorative justice or other disciplinary actions. Depending on the nature and severity of the incident, charges can be filed against the perpetrator through legal means.

Finally, be sure to take care of yourself and address any potential psychological harm that can happen when you are the victim of cyber-bullying. While it is important to report and address the incident itself, it is also important that you ensure your own health and well-being too. There are a variety of websites, helplines, groups, and therapists dedicated to assisting people who have been the victim of cyber-bullying.