Online Offense: What Is Cyber Bullying?
Family Medicine provider Dr. Joanna Bisgrove explains cyber bullying
Cyber bullying is hard to escape simply because it’s everywhere. In the past, the child could go home and be safe from the school and playground bullies. Now they have no sanctuary. Some parents might say that the child should simply cut off all electronics. However, given the prevalence of social media in our culture, that would further isolate the child from their friends and potential sources of support, potentially worsening feelings of being victimized, feelings of depression and anxiety.
The i-SAFE Foundation found that when it comes to cyber bullying, most adolescents and teens are victims:
- More than one in three young people have experienced cyberthreats online
- Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or over the internet
- Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online. About the same number have engaged in cyber bullying
- Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs
So, what is cyber bullying and where does it happen?
Any online or virtual bullying qualifies as cyber bullying. This can be online through social networks like Facebook and Twitter, email, image sharing services like Instagram and SnapChat or through instant messaging sites and online forums. Cyber bullying can also be “off line” through cell phone calls and text messages. Any messages or images sent or shared that are intended to hurt or embarrass another person through these media qualify as cyber bullying.
Is cyber bullying really a big deal?
While many teens and adolescents who bully online shrug it off as “no big deal,” the pain and emotions felt by their victims are very real and can have serious consequences.
Cyber bullying can be particularly harmful for a child for many reasons. Once a bullying comment or picture is posted on the Internet, it often goes “viral” and the effects are felt a million times over as more and more people see, comment and pass on the posted image, message or rumor. The speed at which a harmful rumor can spread on the Internet is incredible, and the child has even less time to react and process the hurtful comments that can result, not to mention the actual rumor.
This viral nature of cyber bullying can leave children even less prepared to handle the situation, which can lead to depression, anxiety and isolation. Additionally, recovering from a cyber bullying attack can be difficult because the words or images become part of the permanent record of the internet. Tracking down and erasing all mentions of it online is nearly impossible. This can make a child feel hopeless and like they can never escape the attack.
That’s why teaching resilience and an online “offense” is so important in cyber bullying.
Learn more about cyber bullying and how you teach your children the tools they need to prevent cyber bullying in the article Online Offense: What To Do When Cyber Bullies Attack.