1. What is cyberbullying?
If you have ever suffered insults or threats on the Internet, then you have been a victim of cyberbullying. According to statistics, one in three children has been the victim of cyberbullying and has tried to deal with it. In this article we will teach you how to deal with the aggressors and protect yourself online.
The only thing a cyberbully needs is Internet access. Finding the victims and ways to attack them is easy. However, such actions may eventually turn against the cyberbullies themselves.
There are many ways to insult, humiliate or hurt a person. For example, personal information can be used for inappropriate purposes or nasty rumors can be spread.
2. What are the consequences of cyberbullying?
Each person reacts differently to cyberbullying. Some ignore the offenders, some react to the provocative messages, others try to find the offender in real life and possibly take revenge. But there are also more serious cases where children can’t cope with the psychological trauma and have to seek professional help.
Once you have fallen for the trick of the cyberbully and got involved in the argument, it can last a very long time. The more you react, the more it can escalate.
You can end up in serious trouble. While you are trying to prove your case, your parents see the harsh words you use or the insulting messages you write in an effort to defend and protect yourself. You can end up being the one who is punished. But you know that it wasn’t your fault and that you were just doing what you thought was right.
3. How do you recognise cyberbullying?
- Emails, SMS or messages on social networks carrying insults or threats aimed directly at you;
- Insults in online games on the Internet;
- Deliberate use of the “Report” function to get you banned from a site;
- Harassment in chat rooms on your favorite sites or someone regularly visiting your social network page and writing nasty things on the wall;
- Creating fake profiles – when someone creates a page on your behalf and fills it with damaging information;
- Using your data for registration on various sites;
- Using your nickname or a slightly modified alternative to create a fake account and insult other people, supposedly on your behalf;
- Spreading rumors that lead to cyberbullying by other children – for example, when someone makes up a story such as that you are mocking your friends behind their back, and then communicates this to others;
- Stealing your password and chatting with others on your behalf, using information about you;
- Using your password to change your account – add a photo, status, notes on your behalf;
- Locking your account by changing the password;
- Hacking your computer or sending malware, such as a virus or spam;
- Sending offensive photos or images to your email and social networks;
- Publishing on the Internet photos stolen from your phone, cut from a video or taken from your page on a social network and then replicated;
- Publishing confidential information – when someone takes advantage of your trust and spreads your secrets all over the Internet;
- Publishing the list of your contacts;
- Making your personal correspondence available online;
- Writing a blog to insult people, create humiliating ratings and generally humiliating other people;
- Publishing abusive lists that include you, such as “Top 10 fat girls in the class”;
- Making up a rating system that includes the people you know: “Who is the fattest?”, “Who is the greatest idiot?”, etc.;
- Creating polls (for example, “Is Andrew an idiot or a nerd?”) to embarrass or humiliate you;
- Posting provocative messages and actions in chat rooms that can make you look like an aggressor.
4. Is there such a thing as “positive bullying”?
Believe it or not, some young people involved in cyberbullying feel little remorse. They target people they believe are the “bad guys” and often imagine themselves to be the defenders or superheroes that restore justice and protect others. They are conventionally referred to as “vengeful angels.”
As soon as the “victim” reacts to a provocative message – and begins to insult back – the “vengeful angels” can declare them to be a cyberbully.
“Vengeful angels” can be friends of bullies; with the bullies using their feelings of friendship to escalate a cyberbullying campaign.
Typically, these children do not create communities to humiliate others. They act on their own, although they may share their views with friends and get them to behave in a similar way.
If you want to teach someone a lesson via the Internet, stop for a second and think. “Vengeful angels” must understand that no one has the right to administer justice by themselves. Fighting the aggressor “angels” only make things worse.
These children are, in fact, the bullies, and not fighters for justice as they consider themselves. Instead of getting involved in a war against cyber aggressors, just block them or notify the website administration about the infringement.
5. What are the dangers of the “Nerds revenge”?
Some cyberbullies are eager to show their power and prove that they are strong enough to make others do what they want. They try to offend anyone who is not quite like the others. Such bullies usually need a large audience. The more people watch as they mock someone, the more they seem to enjoy it.
Bullies often brag about what they do and convince others that they have the power. They need your reaction to act more confidently..
Curiously, most of these Internet offenders are outsiders in real life. They are either not popular or live in their own world..
Often these children have a very good understanding of digital technologies. Their behavior is sometimes called “Revenge of the nerds”. Being anonymous on the Internet, they think that they can attack anyone and be safe from any harm. And they can act quite violently..
Most often, though they simply act up for the audience and will never behave the same way in real life. But sometimes the cyberbullying can turn into a real life bullying..
6. What is the difference between female and male cyberbullies?
Groups of girls can find themselves involved in cyberbullying out of boredom or just for fun, often just by engaging in gossip. Emotional harm can arise when they gang up on others to play pranks or exclude them.
Typically, nobody would do this alone. Usually, a group of teenagers chooses a victim and creates a plan for bringing that person to tears.
When undertaken deliberately by an online ‘gang’, this type of harassment requires an audience. Everything is done to impress the public and for a self-assertion of power and control.
This kind of intimidation is fueled by the positive response of the onlookers who ‘like’ online posts, leave comments, encourage the bullies and join the group. Once the process stops being entertaining for the public, bullies disappear.
7. Do offenders enjoy cyberbullying?
Typically, yes. But there are also “unintentional cyberbullies.” Such people usually don’t consider themselves to be cyberbullies at all. They can pretend that they are brutal and merciless on the Internet or simply respond to the aggressive messages they received.
In contrast to the “nerds”, they don’t attack anyone intentionally. They just react to something without thinking about the consequences of their actions.
For example, they may feel a flash of anger because of the message posted in reply to their message, or because of something unrelated that they previously saw on the Internet. They write an insulting response and don’t think much before clicking “send”.
Sometimes, in experimenting with their online roles, they can attack someone not even understanding how serious it can be. These children are engaged in cyberbullying out of curiosity, simply “because I can”.
They can also write something insulting to their friends just for fun, but the friend can take a joke seriously and, thus, mutual cyberbullying begins.
8. What is cyberbullying via proxy?
The most typical example of cyberbullying via proxy is when someone hacks into your account and sends offensive messages to people in your contact list. Sometimes the bully even pretends that they are a victim, while you are the real villain. Such cyber-aggressors can even change your password, so you won’t be able to get into your account, while your friends don’t realize that it has nothing to do with you.
Another type of cyberbullying is using a third party to offend and humiliate you, while the bully themselves looks pretty innocent. This is the most dangerous type of cyberbullying, as it almost always involves adults who don’t realize that they are simply being manipulated.
9. What is the difference between cyberbullying and traditional bullying at school?
Many adults can remember being laughed at or even bullied at school. But things are quite different on the Internet. While traditional bullies can be easily sent out of a classroom or dealt with directly, cyber-attackers often remain uncaught and can continue as they please.
Posts on social networks or emails can appear at any moment. You can block users but they can immediately create another fake account to keep bullying you. Also, the Internet facilitates a certain level of bravado. If a child can’t get into an argument with their classmates directly, they can unleash their anger on the Internet and be harsher with than they would be face-to-face.
10. Why are such things dangerous?
Compared to aggressive behavior offline, cyberbullying can have more dangerous consequences. Often victims believe that their public humiliation can be seen by everyone and that the message will never disappear from the Internet. As a result some can children become so stressed and emotionally overwhelmed that it could lead to self-harm and thoughts of suicide.
At the moment, parents and school authorities have limited means of preventing cyberbullying. They cannot control children who insult and humiliate others on various online platforms. However, you can protect yourself from cyberattacks and trolls.