- Cyberbullying is a form of bullying in which the perpetrator uses technological means to harass, demean, tease, or threaten their victim(s).
- Cyberbullies can attack their victims via social media, text, phone call, or email, anytime and anywhere, so long as they have access to this technology.
- Anybody can become a victim of cyberbully, but most often these victims are kids and teens—and there are overwhelming statistics that support the overwhelming presence of cyberbullying among this demographic.
- Do what you can to protect yourself from bullies online: if you’ve been targeted by a cyberbully, don’t retaliate, do cut them off, and at least think about reporting them.
What Exactly Is Cyberbullying?
If you know what bullying is, you can probably guess what cyberbullying is. Essentially, it’s bullying done in cyber space or, in other words, electronically. While the definition is simple enough, this form of harassment is far from simple—it’s serious. And some cyberbullies go to great lengths to target their victims, to attack their victims via social media, texting, email, and any other electronic means available to them. Dr. John DeGarmo, the director of The Foster Care Institute—who conducts seminars across the nation on the dangers of online technology and social media for today’s youth—delves into the functionality and severity of cyberbullying:
“Cyberbullying is the use of technology to embarrass, threaten, tease, harass, or even target another person. With the use of online technology and social networking sites, today’s bully can follow their targeted victim wherever they may go. Whether they’re in school, at the park, at the movie theater, or at home, whenever that bullied individual has a cell phone or access to online technology, he can be bullied. In essence, this form of bullying can be nonstop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Cyberbullying takes many forms. Indeed, as today’s youth is so very technologically savvy, they can use this technology as a tool to bully others. This type of bullying can be done through emails, chat rooms, social network sites, text messages, cell phones, and even websites. There are countless ways a child can be bullied with this type of technology, and the number of ways is increasing, just as technology continues to advance.”
Who Is Affected? How?
While anybody can fall victim to cyberbullying, oftentimes these victims are on the younger side. Kids and teens have a large social media presence, which perhaps increases their chance of being bullied online, as reflected by the shocking statistics detailed by DeGarmo:
“The number of children who have been exposed to some sort of cyberbullying is astounding. According to McAfee, which is part of Intel Security, 87% of today’s youth have witnessed cyberbullying. The Cyberbullying Research Center found that 33% of students have acknowledged that they have experienced cyberbullying themselves. Tragically, cyberbullying also leads to suicide. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people. Shockingly, roughly 4,400 young people commit suicide in the United States each year. The CDC estimates that there are at least 100 suicide attempts for every suicide committed among young people.”
Stay Safe Online—Protect Yourself from Cyberbullying
Do what you can to defend yourself against cyberbullying. If you’ve fallen victim to a cyberbully, follow these three simple steps:
1) Ignore the bully.
Oftentimes, bullies bully because they’re looking for attention. So, if you find that you’re being targeted, ignore them! Don’t engage—don’t respond to their mean comments or retaliate by making your own mean comments.
2) Cut them off.
Next, cut the bully completely off. Block their number and block them on your social media accounts so they can’t contact you. Chances are, they’ll lose interest, give up on you, and move on to another victim.
3) Report them.
Don’t shy away from reporting the bully and holding them accountable for their actions. You can report them for harassment on social media, and you can also report them to a trusted authoritative figure—whether that’s a parent, teacher, or boss.