To most people including teachers and parents, the general stereotype of a bully is when there is an over-sized male student or a group of students who uses verbal and/or physical attacks to hurt a smaller or weaker student. This stereotype is perpetuated throughout pop culture. However, ever since the birth of the internet and social media, everything has changed.
The internet and social media have changed and created a new form of bullying which is known as “cyberbullying”. So what is cyberbullying and how does it linked to the traditional form of bullying? Cyberbullying is a form of harassment using electronic medium such as (email, chatrooms, online voting booths, and online social communication platforms) to threaten or harm others (Strom & Strom, 2005)
Over the years, the number of cyberbullies has increased dramatically. For example, in the US, 37% of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 have been bullied online and 30% of them were bullied more than once.
You may wonder why cyberbullying is so serious. I’ve heard people saying “It’s NO BIG DEAL, haters got to hate, just ignore those bad comments and focus on the good ones”. Cyberbullying is much more serious as compared to traditional bullies because it can have more devastating negative effects on the victim. According to Kowalski and Limber (2009), they found out that victims that were cyber bullied had more negative effects in terms of psychological Health, physiological Health, and academic performance compare to victims that were traditionally bullied. Victims being cyberbullied have a higher risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, self-harm, even suicide. Therefore, IT IS A BIG DEAL!!!
Cyberbullying is extremely difficult to capture as they can remain anonymous at all times. These bullies could be using different IP addresses to hide their online presence. Hence, it is extremely challenging to track these perpetrators down.
So how can we prevent cyberbullying from happening? It is merely impossible to prevent cyberbullying from happening BUT we can always find ways to protect ourselves from being the victim.
Here are a few METHODS for everyone on how to prevent and protect yourself from being a victim of cyberbullying and how are we going to deal with them if we face cyberbullies.
1. Protecting Your Privacy Online
We love to post our daily lives and happy moments online to share with our friends and family. However, it is also important to filter what we want to share and who we want to share it with. Hence, making our accounts or certain posts private will limit outsiders from accessing our information.
It is also important to limit our online friends. Now I understand some people may want to have as many friends or followers as possible because who doesn’t want affirmation from others right? However, accepting people we do not even know is risky as we have no clue who is behind the computer and what their intention of adding us is. If we find out certain users are starting to cyberbully us via messenger, we can and should unfriend or stop following them right away.
2. Ignore them
The best way to deal with them is to ignore them. Sometimes these people are simply attention seekers where they will post something and wait for people to respond negatively to the things they posted.
3. Resist the urge to fire back.
Linking back to the second point. Some cyberbullies commit such actions just to elicit a certain response from us and if we are to fire back, we are basically giving what they want! Hence, it is important to resist on firing back at them and simply ignore their posts, as much as we can, despite how difficult it can get. Another benefit for not firing back is to prevent our own anger or frustration from escalating further. For example, it’s perfectly normal to feel angry or frustrated when we are being bullied and l we will defend ourselves and this is when we tend to fire back. However, if you fire back, cyberbullies will send back negative messages and this will go on and on and it will never end. Moreover, firing back will only do more harm to yourself.
You may ask, how are we going to regulate our emotions when our anger and frustration reaches the top of our head?
Well, it’s very subjective in this manner as different people have different ways of calming themselves. However, there are a few ways that could help you in regulating your emotions. For example, listening to calm music, change your response, shift your attentional focus etc.
4. Get help
If we have been the target of cyberbullying or at risk of being bullied, PLEASE approach someone whom you trust and talk to them. Discuss your problems with them and share your current feelings or emotions with them. However, if we do not have anyone whom we are comfortable to share our problems with (it is a normal phenomenon, it is nothing to be ashamed of as trust does not come that easy), this platform, Your Ears and Heart (YEAH) will always be with you whenever and wherever you are. We have experts here to listen to your problems and professionals to help you if you need any further help.
We could not prevent or stop cyberbullying completely from happening but the least we can do is to spread the awareness of this issue and prevent it from happening in the future, to us, to our loved ones, and to everyone in the world.
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Görzig, A., & Frumkin, L. A. (2013). Cyberbullying experiences on-the-go: When social media can become distressing. Cyberpsychology, 7(1), 4.
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Hamm, M. P., Newton, A. S., Chisholm, A., Shulhan, J., Milne, A., Sundar, P., … & Hartling, L. (2015). Prevalence and effect of cyberbullying on children and young people: A scoping review of social media studies. JAMA pediatrics, 169(8), 770-777.
Kowalski, R. M., & Limber, S. P. (2013). Psychological, physical, and academic correlates of cyberbullying and traditional bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(1), S13-S20.
Whittaker, E., & Kowalski, R. M. (2015). Cyberbullying via social media. Journal of School Violence, 14(1), 11-29.
Van Hee, C., Lefever, E., Verhoeven, B., Mennes, J., Desmet, B., De Pauw, G., … & Hoste, V. (2015). Automatic detection and prevention of cyberbullying. In International Conference on Human and Social Analytics (HUSO 2015) (pp. 13-18). IARIA.
Contributed by Yang Kang Pong
Repost with permission from Your Ears and Heart, YEAH