Cyberbullying is very common in the digital world nowadays. As soon as you have introduced your teens to social media along with pros, disadvantages also start knocking. As a parent, you must make some home rules and set up an example to follow by them while browsing the social network.
Handling known enemies and trouble makers is difficult, so imagine someone whom you don’t know in the digital world thread or harras you online must be hard. As a parent, responsibility increases to guide them about these facts and make them aware of how to deal with it.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is when someone misuses the technology to embarrass, threaten, and give online harassment to others, target them with messages, text posts, or pictures with the motive of hurting and embarrassing.
It affects a lot to young teens since the person usually unknown, difficult to deal with or handle, and visible to many people. It has many forms:
1. Spreading rumors online
2. Sharing or sending videos or images to embarrass or humiliate.
3. Intentionally sending comments and text on social media to defame the image or hurt.
4. Sending threads
5. Making fake profiles or intimidate someone else.
6. Comments on sexuality, religion, and race, or gender.
How it differs from another bullying?
Well, in case of bullying other than cyberbullying, you know the culprit and know who is the person tries to mis-frame or give you pain in life, but in this case, as bullies can be anonymous it’s difficult to trace and track, though we have options of tracing via the right channel.
There’s no limit to who can view or take part in cyberbullying, content can get accessed through search engines. It is tough to get it removed entirely from online channels.
There are 4 major places where you can see the occurrence of cyberbullying:
1. Social media (FB, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc)
2. Instant Messaging services (WhatsApp, FB messengers, etc)
4. Cellular messages (SMS)
Facebook is the major platform where it occurs most to share images, visuals via messengers, or even creating fake profiles or hacking profiles.
4 Major kinds of Cyberbullying
1. Photograph or Video Shaming: This means using photographs of victim uploading on different sites, morphing, or even sharing via mails to others. Even making videos of any incident and later sharing or blackmailing with that. If shared on the cyberworld, that video will be for everyone to humiliate the victim.
2. Harassment: This is the most common method of cyberbullying. Bullies share or post rumors, threads, or even embarrassing information on social media. Not only this, even text attacks on social media posts attacking one teen by ganging up with other bullies. Even exchanging text messages via messenger or mail.
3. Impersonation: Creating a fake profile, hacking up accounts to bully. It’s common to develop a screen name similar to the victim’s name and chatting with others pretending the victim. Using pictures from social media accounts to look authentic.
4. Indirect methods: Ganging up with others tweeting, texting on social media without taking name yet the victim and the larger audience know for whom the post or comment is referring to.
How do cyberbullying effects teens?
Today, nearly 80% of teens are using mobile phones, and cyberbullying is spreading daily across the globe. Kids who face this often feel terrified. The distress keeps increasing, which can range:
3. Decreased confidence and self-esteem
4. Poor concentration
6. Suicidal attempts and thoughts
7. Drop out of school or college.
Do you know how a child feel if cyberbullied?
1. Helpless: They feel very powerless and find it difficult to feel safe. This is because it happens through your computer or cell phone, which means they feel no place to escape. As bullies, majorly used to be anonymous, it’s more difficult to trace.
2. Humiliated: As all happens online in cyberspace, it’s like an open book, and kids feel exposed. The feeling of that something is out there gives the feeling of humiliation.
3. Hollowness: It happens majorly where kids are lacking or more vulnerable. This bullying gives them the feeling of being worthless, which leads to doubt of their value. It brings a big feeling of hollowness and worthless.
4. Vengeful: Often kids at this age are repulsive and forgiving is difficult for them. Once they know who is targeting them or bullying, the revenge thought or plot is dangerous.
5. Isolated: With such a feeling of humiliation, hollowness they usually stay away and used to isolate themselves. They feel or if any friend guides them to stay away from the cyber world; they turn off their computer and switch off their phones, which at this age lead to cutting off all communication channels and leads towards isolation.
6. Depressed: All these leads and effect a lot on their mental health and lead towards depression. This is a major issue and because of which risk of suicide increases. They feel the best and straightforward way to get out of this pain is to end up their life.
7. Scared: With threads, images, videos, comments, the text they take into a shell and they often stay scared.
How to prevent child getting cyberbullied?
As it’s said, “Precaution is better than cure” it’s better to teach your kid some basic rules and how they can stay safe.
1. First important thing is to educate yourself and then address details to your kid.
2. Tell them to always make their accounts on social media a PRIVATE account and the benefits of having a private account. You can cross-check by searching their name on Google search and if their accounts pop up, you can let them know how to change settings to private.
3. Make them understand and guide to which picture should be uploaded on social media and which not. Tell them once a picture or video uploaded on the internet, it’s open for a larger audience to watch.
4. Let them be engaged in more offline activities, sports, and games. Less screen time in the virtual world can save them more.
5. Important is to let them know cyberbullying is not cool and wrong. They themselves should not involve in any such activities as this comes under offense and punishable under law.
Laws for cyberbullying in INDIA
There are no specific laws to regulate cyberbullying in India, but we have SECTION 66A of the Information Technology Act, which says Punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service.
It’s always better to discuss with a legal team, lawyers, and police authorities.
Conclusion: It’s advisable to set up rules for social media and educate kids about its pros and cons. Keep open up communication channels so they can share their tensions and worries related to cyberbullying.
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Disclaimer–This article is an advisory piece.
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