Cyber bullying is a big issue in today’s digital age, and the ramifications on children and young adults are well documented. Today, we’re honing in on what exactly constitutes cyber bullying, so as a parent, you can identify whether your child is being targeted.
This is the first part of a series, which will later include tips and insights into effectively dealing with cyber bullying.
What is bullying?
People of all generations have encountered bullying in some form, at some time in their life. But with the rise of social media and mobile phone usage, bullying has taken on a whole new form.
It’s important to note that bullying isn’t necessarily an argument or fight between two or more people. According to the Kids Helpline, it is targeted and persistent behavior that is intended to:
- embarrass; or
Bullying has other characteristics too:
- There is an imbalance of power. This may occur if a group of kids gang up on one child, or a stronger child picks on someone with less confidence.
- The behaviour is repetitive. Does the bully pick on the individual repeatedly? This may happen via email, on social media, on a forum or even over the phone. The point is that the message is being conveyed over and over.
What is cyber bullying?
Cyber bullying is a special category of bullying. The perpetrator uses an online platform, such as Facebook, messaging or email, to harass, intimidate, threaten or demean another person.
Cyber bullying is a very big issue in Australia, and many children have spoken confidentially to counselors at Kids Helpline about the issue.
What does cyber bullying look like?
Here are just some examples of cyber bullying:
- Emailing or posting a mean message to someone, especially if it happens again and again.
- Constantly teasing someone in an online chat room or a social media network.
- Making up a fake profile and pretending to be someone else.
- Spreading rumours about someone online.
- Posting rude or inappropriate materials about someone on a website.
- Sharing an image or video of someone, knowing it will embarrass them.
- Intimidating or threatening a person online.
Why is cyber bullying so bad?
Bullying in all its forms is extremely harmful, and can have lasting effects on the person targeted. Cyber bullying is especially unique because a bully is able to embarrass their victim in front of a large number of people.
The online world is public, so any rude or embarrassing comment is likely to be seen by a person’s peers, plus any number of other people too. This is understandably traumatising for a person, especially a child.
Next week we’ll be exploring how you can help your child deal with cyber bullying. For tips and insights about keeping your child safe online, please visit our Facebook page or Sign Up to our safe social media app.