“The Internet has been a boon and a curse for teenagers” J.K Rowling
There is no denying the insurmountable benefits the Internet has provided to us over the last few decades. But, unfortunately, in the hands of the wrong people, it can do a lot more damage than good. J.K Rowling’s quote aptly sums up the experience for children and teens. Whilst they are using the Internet more than ever, either to do research for school or to socialise with friends and family, they often find themselves targets of online bullying. Much like in the real world, bullies in the digital space prey on others in an effort to manipulate and intimidate – control and power seem to be the primary driving forces.
Traditionally, bullying has been viewed as an aggressive attack in the form of verbal or physical abuse. However, today, bullying can be described in many other ways. The internet has made it really easy to violate other people’s privacy and cause them unnecessary harm. The term cyberbullying is most often defined as the use of the Internet and technology to harass, threaten, embarrass or target another person.
Here are the different types of Cyberbullying every educator should know about:
The bully pretends to be someone they aren’t in an attempt to hide their identity and prey on vulnerable children – they may do so by creating fake email addresses or instant messaging names. If they have access to someone else’s account information or mobile phone, they may use that to target the person. The danger in this type of bullying lies in the fact that a child may share private or sensitive information assuming the person they are talking to is someone known to them. This information can easily be misused by the bully, whose primary objective is to cause harm and manipulate others.
In this type of bullying the victim is slapped, punched, kicked or beaten, while someone films the incident using a camera phone or some other recording device. The bully goes a step further and posts the video online on platforms such as YouTube to share it with a larger audience. As an alternative to YouTube the video may also be circulated via email or text messages, with the sole purpose of humiliating and embarrassing the victim.
This unpleasant trend has become widely popular, with hundreds of videos being circulated across the internet. Very often, individuals are seriously harmed in the videos, not to mention the mental and emotional trauma of being physically abused and humiliated while their attackers laugh and make jokes.
Website, Blogs and Social Media
In some cases, bullies create websites or blogs dedicated to humiliating, insulting and embarrassing the victim. This could involve publishing private information and images on the website, thus putting the victim in danger. Sharing and posting information that is malicious, untrue and hateful via social media networks is another common method used by bullies to target victims. Also, bullies sometimes post rude, insulting comments on someone’s Facebook or Twitter Page and use information that was shared in confidence to manipulate and hurt their victims.
The cruel and sad truth about this form of online bullying is that it uses social networking sites, which were created for the purpose of connecting people and building social communities, to hurt and humiliate others.
For example, the popular platform, SnapChat is being used by bullies in multiple ways to attack their victims. Bullies upload embarrassing pictures or videos of victims, comparing them with animals or using other derogatory comparisons to cause humiliation.
In one harrowing incident a few years ago, a 14-year-old schoolgirl spent 48 hours in hospital after taking an overdose, following excessive bullying on Facebook, Twitter and SnapChat.
Just when we thought things couldn’t get worse, we discovered ‘Fraping’ – impersonating someone by logging into their social networking accounts and posting inappropriate content using their name. While a lot of young people think of it as a harmless way to have fun, fraping can have serious consequences and cause unnecessary harm.
While the above mentioned forms of cyberbullying constitute harassment in one form or another, online harassment is also a standalone form of cyberbullying. In this case, the bully persistently targets the victim with hateful messages and emails, very often threatening to do harm. The cyberbully consciously tries to instill fear and cause pain, seriously damaging a child’s self-esteem and emotional health.
Cyberbullying is extremely damaging to the emotional and psychological well-being of an individual. As bullying moves out school corridors and playgrounds into the digital world, protecting children and adolescents has become an increasingly challenging task.
Securus helps schools implement efficient e-Safety measures to promote the well-being of children and create a school environment that is free from potential threats.