Technology has done wonders for our world. It has made it easier to stay connected. To be aware of our loved ones easily and reach out to them by calling or texting any time we want. Unfortunately, however, technology has also made bullying (also known as cyberbullying) easier, more anonymous, more permanent and often deadly. These bullies can be anyone, a child or a grown up, a girl or a boy, a man or a woman.
Things were bad enough when bullying was confined to the playground, but now it can follow you home in your pocket.
Cyberbullying involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated and hostile behavior by an individual or group that is intended to harm others. There are different forms of cyberbullying like harassment, impersonation, outing, trickery, exclusion, cyberstalking and cyberthreats.
In this era, being active on social media is a norm. Everyone seems to have an account somewhere or be seen with a phone in hand. According to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), there are an estimated 150.32 million registered mobile phone users in Pakistan.
Women are an easy target for cyberbullies but many times they go after their family as well. They do anything and everything they can to have a go at you. Women are two times more likely to fall prey to cyberbullying than men.
Rising Statistics of Cyberbullying
Youth today, is not using the internet for just homework; their social lives depend on it. That could explain why most teenagers ignore bullying and harassment after it takes place. Only one in ten teens tells their parents that they have been a cyberbullying victim. According to data from UNESCO on the prevalence of cyberbullying in high-income countries, the proportion of children and adolescents who are affected by cyberbullying range from 5% to 21%, with girls appearing to be more likely to experience cyberbullying than boys. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center (CRC), 36.7% of adolescent girls have experienced cyberbullying in their lifetime, as compared to 30.5% of boys. As many as 25%, one in four, of those who had been cyberbullied went so far as to experience suicidal thoughts as a result.
How Does Cyberbullying Take Place?
The internet is usually thought to be a blessing, but there is a downside: it has provided a platform for bullies to target their victims, even from afar. You can come across bullies anywhere. Gone are the days when people only had to face bullies at school, now you find them everywhere.
Nowadays, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter are an important part of a person’s life. Best pictures, best places to visit or hang out and talking about hobbies are becoming a trend. People share all their personal stuff with everyone to feel special and important. They try to let people in but they forget that someone could use it against them. The worst part is that most of the time, people do not even know who’s behind it.
Cyberbullying Can Manifest in Many Forms
• Impersonating someone, mostly celebrities to embarrass the bullied.
• Spread false rumors and making fun of a certain person on social media and on forums.
• Sharing personal photos of someone without consent.
• Forcibly acquiring personal information about a person, only to be used against him/her.
• Repeatedly harassing someone in a chat room.
• Sending threatening or nasty messages and emails to other people.
• Leaving abusive remarks about another user in a forum.
• Creating a different profile on social networking sites to either make fun of someone or damage that person’s reputation, especially anonymously.
Encouraging this kind of behavior by laughing and sharing them is also considered bullying. Usually, cyberbullying can even progress to offline bullying forms such as physical abuse, verbal attacks, and relational bullying. This is especially true for children who attend the same school or people who live in the same city as their tormentors.
Effects of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying can have a devastating effects on victims and their families. It can result in anxiety, depression, fear, lowers self-esteem and loneliness, which can in turn cause decreased school attendance, a strained relationship with friends, extreme embarrassment, school relocation, drug use, and even suicide.
How to Prevent It?
• Know That It’s Not Your Fault
People mistake an argument for bullying. But if someone is repeatedly cruel to you only then it is bullying and you must not blame yourself for it.
• Don’t Respond or Retaliate
The main purpose of bullies is to feel power and
control over people. They are looking for a reaction. So, don’t give in to it. There is no need to retaliate. This way, you won’t encourage them. Getting back to a bully turns you into one, too.
• Save the Evidence
Keep the evidence saved. That way you can use it against the bully.
• Tell the Person to Stop
If you feel comfortable in doing so, do it; tell that person to stop. You need to make your position clear that you won’t stand that kind of treatment anymore.
• Reach Out for Help
Look for help, talk to someone about it. No one can bear everything on their own. Everyone needs backup. So, seek help from someone you trust.
• Protect Your Accounts
Don’t ever give your password to anyone.
• Block the Person
You can always block the person and report them. Do so right away!
• Inform Higher Authorities
When the tactics of bullies start to escalate and lead to blackmail and threats, especially physical ones, inform your parents, guardians, and the local police. Do it before it’s too late.
• Double-Check Your Posts
Always double-check your posts, like your pictures and personal information. You don’t want anyone to use the content against you.
Cyberbullying isn’t something to be taken lightly. A person should realize that a laugh, a joke or a snide comment could lead to someone committing suicide. Be careful when it comes to trusting someone. We need to think before posting something: Can our words be picked up the wrong way or upset someone? Is a photo suitable for people to see? If you post something online and ‘comments’ or ‘chat’ becomes overwhelming, remove your post. Always remember that words don’t just hurt but can kill! HH
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