How Cyberbullying is Different and Can Be More Dangerous
September 6, 2022
Whether we like it or not, the internet is here to stay. And along with it comes a variety of challenges that society has identified, but has yet to figure out how to handle.
There are companies that take small pieces of information most people don’t think twice about leaving behind, and use it to create frighteningly accurate profiles.
There are algorithms that deliberately promote inflammatory content, because the only thing that matters is enticing someone to click on that Like. And there’s nothing quite like outrage to drive engagement.
Finally, there are new and exciting ways for people to be cruel to each other. Take online harassment, doxing—publishing private information such as real names, work places, and addresses—and cyberbullying.
3 Reasons Why Cyberbullying is Different
Cyberbullying, as defined by the Cyberbullying Research Center, is “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” Because it occurs primarily on and through digital devices, it is different from traditional bullying in several key aspects.
- Because it occurs online, it can be anonymous. Although steps may be taken to remove the bully from one’s virtual community, there is a problem. It is often only a matter of a couple clicks to delete a blocked account and create a new one.That’s how the bullying can continue.
- Cyberbullying, like physical bullying, can be perpetrated by social cliques. In the real world, these cliques are often composed of just a handful of people. Online, they can be communities of tens, hundreds, thousands of people, or more. Imagine that many people who use bullying or harassment of a chosen target as a way of signaling their allegiance to their chosen group.
- Because it occurs online, and not in a physical space, cyberbullying is invisible. It is easy to see when one child throws a punch at another. In this case it’s a matter easily addressed by the appropriate authority figures. One child sending a message to another is much more difficult to properly litigate. It is often up to the victim to take action. That may be to inform parents or other trusted authority figures, but even then the response may be insufficient.
It is difficult to convey just how damaging cyberbullying can be to those who have neither experienced it nor seen its effects first hand. This is especially true in a society that regularly mocks those who claim emotional injury.
It is even more difficult to communicate just how different the world is from the one in which most adults today grew up in.
But however fast the world is changing, however quickly your child is growing, just remember, there are few things more powerful than a sympathetic, listening ear from someone who loves them.
The Cyberbullying Research Center has a number of free resources for victims of cyberbullying and for parents. In our next post, we’ll discuss the signs parents should be aware of that their children are being bullied. And what they can do to stop it.
Until next time,
Your SZW Team
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