A Canadian teenager, Amanda Todd brought the issue of online harassment into prime focus by posting a video on YouTube in which she told her story with her handwritten signs, describing how she was blackmailed into exposing herself in front of a webcam. The bully posted her private pictures on a Facebook page created by him to which all her friends were added. She was constantly bullied, despite changing schools. After describing her harassment on a YouTube video, this 15-year-old later committed suicide.
This is definitely a shocking incident of cyberbullying. Many may know and some may not know how terrible cyberbullying can be. People often take it very lightly and do not consider this to be a big issue. But let us understand what cyberbullying really is. Cyber bullying is when a child, preteen or teen is threatened, tormented, troubled, harassed, or embarrassed by another person using the Internet. It takes place using electronic technology which includes cell phones, Laptops, Tablets and personal computers as well as through communication tools such as social networking websites, SMSs on mobile phones, or chat on chatting websites. Internet has not only maximized the chances to bully at school, but has also got the problem into our houses. Cyber bullying not just sticks to internet, young kids who are being cyber bullied are bullied in person as well. It can happen any time of the day or night. It can be very difficult and most of the times impossible to track the source.
People who cyberbully often send hurtful or threatening messages on the victims mobile or make it appear in an online game. Similarly they also share fake pictures or humiliating videos on social networking website like Facebook or YouTube. Additionally, they may also send confidential instant SMSs that disclose secrets or other private details about the victim. Moreover, they can also break into someone else’s social media account or mobile phone and send harassing messages through it. Furthermore, online multi-player games also sometimes result in cyberbullying. It is a potential place for harassment and cyberbullying as kids use the chat features to talk to other players. The psychological and emotional consequences of such torment are similar to those of real-life bullying.
How common is cyberbullying?
According to a study, more than 80% of teens use a mobile phone regularly, which makes it a best medium for cyber bullying. Around 43% of kids have been bullied online. About 58% of kids admit someone has said hurtful things to them online. It can also result in extreme depression or can even result in suicide. Bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide. This means that cyber bullying is extremely common and can have a damaging emotional effect on victims. Unfortunately, young victims seldom report it to an adult.
Reason why cyberbullying may be more disastrous than real-life bullying is the potential presence of numerous, unseen bully. The victim is left unsure of whom to fear.
Here are few ways that can help us avoid and further tackle cyberbullying:
- Both schools and homes should teach the children ethical online behavior.
- Parents and teachers should talk to their children about responsible Internet use.
- Parents should tell their kids to never post anything personal on the social networking sites or other websites which they don’t want anyone to know.
- Parents should educate their child to keep their password secured and not to share it with friends when visiting gaming sites or playing online games.
- Parents should teach their teenage children to be extra careful when interacting online on social networking sites.
- Parents and teachers should be friendly with children and should teach them to always tell their adult about cyberbullying when they encounter it.
- Children fear that if their parents come to know about cyberbullying, they will take away their Internet. Parents should make their child believe that they will not do any such thing; instead they will support them to deal with the issue.
- Parents should look for signs, if the child is reluctance to use the internet or scared to go to school then may be this is an indication.
- If parents or teachers find out that the child is being bullied then they should report about this online harassment to the local police.
- Children should be taught how to respond to online harassment by leaving the chatting website and blocking that very person, talk to an adult about it and inform the police as well.