Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that takes place via the use of digital technologies. It can happen online (social media or online gaming), via texts, images, and applications where users can engage in or exchange content. Cyberbullying is defined as spreading negative, humiliating, or misleading content about another person.
Cyberbullying vs traditional bullying: what are the main differences?
Although both terms reflect negative and humiliating behaviour, they differ in several ways.
- Cyberbullying means the person abusing has some degree of technological ability
- Cyberbullying allows the bully to remain anonymous
- Cyberbullying harms people with minimal physical interaction
- Cyberbullying has no boundaries – victims can be bullied when at home, via the internet
Where cyberbullying occurs the most
When it comes to humiliating people online, aggressors prefer certain environments that offer the highest level of anonymity and allow room to maneuver.
In cyberspace, bullying occurs via:
- Social media
- Messaging apps
- Comments, chat rooms, message boards
- E-mail messages
- Online gaming groups
According to Dr. Monica Barreto, PhD, a licensed clinical child psychologist at the Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, the majority of incidents occur on popular social media platforms.
Although social networks allow kids to exchange photos and posts and communicate with friends, they also serve as a breeding ground for cyberbullying. Cyberbullies can make emotionally damaging comments anonymously on these social media networks.
Types of Cyberbullying
Aggressors can bully their targets online in various ways. They can leave insulting comments under a person’s photo or bully someone discreetly in a direct message. These are the most widespread types of cyberbullying:
This typically refers to a continuous and consistent pattern of insulting or abusive online messages sent to a person.
- “Warning wars” – many social networks feature buttons to report abuse. Bullies use these buttons to get their target into trouble (to be banned from the site, for example)
- Text wars or attacks – bullies team up to send their victim thousands of texts
- Making unkind or offensive comments about a person
- Posting gossip, threatening or embarrassing content on social media or sending via email
This involves playing the role of someone else online thereby causing trouble for the real person who is being impersonated.
- Altering a person’s profile, adding sexual, racist or other repulsive content
- Coming up with a name that sounds similar to the target’s name in order to publish insulting comments
- Catfishing – the bully creates a fake identity online in order to target their victim
🔹 Photo Shaming
This involves the use of humiliating or inappropriate photos (stolen or taken covertly) of the victim.
- Posting naked photos on various online resources
- Sending humiliating images of the victim to numerous people
- Blackmailing a person by threatening to share humiliating pictures of them
- “Slutshaming” – criticism of a person based on their looks, sexual availability, and actual or perceived sexual conduct
🔹 Video Shaming
This involves the use of humiliating or inappropriate videos of the victim.
- Cyberbaiting – making the victim become emotional by setting up a certain situation and then filming their behavior. Often the victims are teachers.
- Uploading a humiliating video to YouTube so that a wider audience can see it
- Sending a specific video of the victim to a large number of people via messaging apps
- Using a camera phone to film the bullying of a victim which may include people slapping or kicking their target
What are the main causes of cyberbullying?
According to researchers, cyberbullies exhibit a lack of guilt and have more behavioral issues than those who do not indulge in cyberbullying. This includes being in trouble with the police and skipping school (for certain age groups).
Why do bullies choose to bully and why are they so sure of themselves? The starting point of it all is the willingness of the bully to cross the line when attempting to embarrass other people.
Read more: What is cyberbullying and how does it affect people? DevelopmentAid
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