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Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is the use of electronic communication to bully a person in a malicious or threatening manner. Cyberbullying typically affects individuals between the ages of 12 and 18. Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are used more to attack others because the attacker can hide behind the anonymity of their usernames. 

Trigger warning: bullying and suicide


Brief History of Cyberbullying

There is no known time when cyberbullying started, but it became a popular topic in the early 2000s due to the growing use of social media. People started to make fake social media accounts and posted obscene and hurtful comments, as well as videos and pictures. 

Around 2006-2007, the first cyberbully-related suicide was reported. The suicide rates related to cyber bullying began to rise drastically and government officials began to take notice. Many states begin creating and revising laws that made any form of cyberbullying a punishable offense. 

Statistics

  • 38% of females and 26% of males have reported being cyber bullied
  • 50% of teens have experienced some sort of cyberbullying and about 10-20% experience it regularly
  • 80% of cyberbullies use cell phones as tool
  • Only 1 in 10 victims will report cases of cyberbullying to their legal guardians
  • Cyberbullying affects all races
  • Victims of cyberbullying are more likely to have low self-esteem and consider suicide

How Cyberbullying Happens

Cyberbullies typically pretend to be other people or a completely fictional character to develop a “friendship” with the victim to receive personal information that will get used against them in the future. 

Platforms and how they usually get used regarding cyberbullying:

  • Facebook/Instagram: bully can post pictures and harmful messages; bystanders can like and join in on the nativity 
  • Blogs/Websites: bully can create a full discussion post of the victim and allow others to join in by commenting and sharing the posts
  • Twitter: typically used for more of a direct/public form of abusive communication

Types of Cyberbullying

  • Flaming: a type of cyberbullying that occurs when the victim is publicly bullied online through instant messaging, email, or group chats. 
  • Exclusions: a type of cyberbullying that occurs when one person is singled out from an online group discussion. Members of the discussion may write rude and nasty comments to the person being singled out.
  • Outing: a type of cyberbullying that occurs when an individual shares private information with another individual through electronic communication and is leaked to a public network.
  • Masquerading: when an individual pretends to be someone else to bully or cause distress to someone online.
  • Cyberstalking: when an individual likes every post of another, basically following their every move on the internet.

Effects of Getting Cyberbullied

  • Use of drugs and alcohol
  • Refusing to attend school
  • Increased isolationism 
  • Depression 
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Low grades
  • Emotional health issues (high anxiety, high stress, breakdowns)

How Cyberbullying Can be Prevented

Personal tips: 

  • Know that it’s not your fault
  • Do not respond or retaliate
  • Use available tech tools (reporting the offensive material or blocking)
  • Make your social media accounts private
  • Think before you post
  • Keep personal information personal
  • Save evidence just in case the bullying continues
  • Educate yourself and others
  • Don’t be afraid to speak out

Advice for parents:

  • Know what sites your child is accessing 
  • Establish rules for using the internet and social media platforms
  • Respond thoughtfully, not fast
  • Monitor your child’s social media outlets
  • Be mindful of age requirements for certain sites (most require users to be at least 15)
  • Have a trusted friend or family member monitor your child’s activity online
  • Be aware of everything cyberbullying can lead to

Major Events Related to Cyber Bullying

  • Club Penguin became the first major social network platform to start cyberbullying awareness
  • Club Penguin announced an initiative called “It Starts With You!”, which aims to educate and empower children on standing up to bullies and speaking up when something is wrong both online and offline. It seeks to teach children the importance of not sharing personal information online, identifying and reporting inappropriate behavior, and respecting other users. 
  • Introduction of the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act to Congress
  • On April 2, 2009 the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act was introduced to congress to make any form of cyberbullying a punishable offense
  • The Introduction and Problems of Anonymous Social Media App Yik Yak
  • Anonymous app that allows people within a 1.5 mile radius interact with each other anonymously. The problem with Yik Yak is that children are accessing the app to daunt their classmates. Yik Yak has enabled geo-tracking to block the app from most of the United States middle and high schools. You also are required to be seventeen years or older to download the app. 

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