- Cyberbullying happens over digital devices.
- Women are more likely to become a bully or victim of cyberbullying in comparison to men.
- Most students experience cyberbullying on Instagram.
- Victims are at a greater risk for both self-harm and suicidal behavior.
- 22% of students have been bullied online.
WHAT IS CYBERBULLYING?
Cyberbullying is a type of bullying that takes place over mobile devices, like mobile phones, computers, and tablets. Perpetrators use digital technology to hurt, humiliate, harass, and harm another student, mostly anonymously via text messages, apps, online on social media, forums, or gaming platforms.
Cyberbullying includes spreading lies about the victim, posting or sharing false and harmful content, for example embarrassing photos, videos, or personal and private information. This can happen in form of hurtful and threatening messages, images, or videos, and can even lead to the creation of fake accounts.
CYBERBULLYING AT UNIVERSITY
Not only in their free time, but also during Covid, students spent a lot of time with their digital devices doing research, homework, or preparing other projects for university. Students may not only become victims of cyberbullying in social networks, but also be affected at university. Private information can be viewed and disseminated on learning platforms. They can be humiliated and laughed at while on Zoom.
Digitalization is a big step towards modern learning at universities, but the inclusion of digital devices and platforms also brings dangers for students, such as a higher risk of being a victim to cyberbullying.
CHARACTERISTICS OF CYBERBULLYING
- digital contact
- Social Media
- online/gaming forums
- chat rooms
In which media is cyberbullying most common?
Cyberbullying can take on many forms and can occur on various platforms. Here are five of the most common types:
- Social media platforms: Sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok are popular among young people and provide an environment where cyberbullying can occur. These platforms allow users to post, comment, and share content, which can be used to harass, intimidate, or humiliate others, or threaten physical harm. Often, bullies create or break into other student’s account to share personal and private information to shame their victim.
- Instant messaging apps: Messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage can be used to send harassing messages, threats, or unwanted content.
- Online forums and communities: Websites with forums or community sections, like Reddit or other niche interest platforms, can also be a breeding ground for cyberbullying. Users can post comments or messages targeting other individuals, often under the guise of anonymity. Users can spread rumours and lies about their victims online that are quickly believed and picked up by other users if the victim does not intervene directly.
- Online gaming platforms: Online gaming communities can also be a source of cyberbullying. In-game chat, voice communication, or even in-game actions can be used to harass or intimidate other players.
- Email: Although less common than other platforms, email can also be used for cyberbullying. An individual may receive harassing or threatening messages through their email account.
Forms of cyberbullying:
- Harassment: Students may experience harassment from their peers in the form of offensive or threatening messages. This can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and a decline in academic performance. It may also lead to social isolation as the victim feels targeted and unsafe.
- Cyberstalking: In an academic setting, cyberstalking may involve a student being persistently monitored and followed online by a fellow student or a group. This may result in the victim feeling constantly on edge and unsafe. Cyberstalking can also involve spreading malicious rumors about the victim, causing damage to their social relationships and self-esteem.
- Impersonation: A student’s impersonation can occur when another student creates a fake social media profile or pretends to be the victim online. This may lead to false information being spread about the student, damaging their reputation among peers, and affecting their relationships.
- Exclusion: Exclusion can manifest as a student being deliberately left out of online group chats, discussions, or projects related to academic activities. This can result in feelings of loneliness, rejection, and decreased self-esteem, which may affect the student’s overall well-being and academic performance.
- Outing/Doxing: Students may be targeted by having their private or sensitive information shared publicly without their consent. This can include private conversations, photos, or videos that the victim intended to keep confidential. The exposure of this information can lead to humiliation, embarrassment, and potential damage to their reputation and relationships.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF CYBERBULLY?
Cyberbullying can have various effects on the victim. Not only are they threatened and harassed, but also scared and ashamed. This can have many consequences for the victim’s well-being.
- Mentally: frustration, emotional stress, depression, low self-esteem
- Emotionally: losing interest in things one loves, not able to attend university/work getting out of touch with friends/co-workers/family members, losing oneself – this can lead to depression, hateful thoughts, suicide
- Physically: loss of sleep, stomach aches and headaches, eating disorders, self-harm, physical violence, drug and alcohol abuse, depression
- Academically: poor academic performance, university dropouts
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BULLYING AND CYBERBULLYING
Cyberbullying and bullying in person often happen simultaneously. While bullying is often undetectable and takes place behind doors, cyberbullying leaves a digital footprint. This helps to provide evidence; therefore, stop the abuse.
The most important thing is to understand that the student is in control of the things they read and see online. It is crucial to not give the bullies a platform. The victim should:
- limit the time one spends online.
- not respond to and interact with threatening or harmful messages.
- not open email messages from strangers.
- block people who harm or threaten their mental health.
- change their email address and/or mobile number.
- talk to family members and friends.
- consult an attorney or report to law enforcement.
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- Cyberbullying Tactics | StopBullying.gov
- Cyberbullying: What is it and how to stop it | UNICEF
- 11 Facts About Cyberbullying | DoSomething.org
- Cyberbullying | National Bullying Prevention Center
- What is Cyberbullying and its impact? | TechTarget Definition
- Cyberbullying In College | Affordable Colleges Online