Most people are connected to one another digitally through cell phones, email, social media, skype and other telecommunications and online platforms. While being connected has many benefits, problems arise when technology is used to bully others by embarrassing, insulting, humiliating, tormenting, harassing, or threatening them. Using technological means to bully others is called cyberbullying.
Unfortunately, 1 in 10 Canadian teens are victims of cyberbullying on social media. Cyberbullying is sometimes called hating on someone, drama, gossip, or trolling.
Here are a few examples of cyberbullying:
- Sending mean or threatening messages through text messages
- Sharing rumours or exposing people’s secrets on social media
- Signing onto someone’s account, pretending to be them, and posting embarrassing or hateful statuses
- Creating online polls to ridicule someone
- Posting embarrassing photos without consent
- Ganging up on someone in an online game and using personal information to threaten them
- Blogging to make fun of someone
- Creating fake pages to mock someone
Cyberbullying is dangerous because it can happen regardless of how far a victim is from their bullies, the shared information spreads quickly, bullies can remain anonymous so it could be very hard to stop, and the bullying can reach a wide audience.
Bystanders have the power to make a difference because:
- Cyberbullies are motivated when others approve of what they are doing or when others find it entertaining, so by actively disapproving, you take away their motivation to continue cyberbullying
- Cyberbullies are more likely to listen to their peers than to adults
There are two types of bystanders; silent bystanders and active bystanders. The silent bystanders do nothing when they receive a copy of a message or photo and does not engage in it. By doing nothing, the bystander’s silence allows the bully to continue.
On the other hand, an active bystander engages with the photo, message, or poll by liking, sharing, commenting, or voting. This encourages the cyberbully to continue their ways.
Bystanders can help by being a friend to the person being targeted. This can mean asking the person if they’re okay or reminding them it’s not their fault or getting them the help they need by telling an adult about the bullying. Bystanders can also report posts, pages, and content as abusive using features that most social platforms have.
Effects of cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is very serious because it can harm reputations, increase stress, and negatively affect mental health.