Cyberbullying is very common in the digital world nowadays. As soon as you have introduced your teens to social media along with the pros, disadvantages also start knocking. As a parent, you must make some home rules and set up an example to follow while browsing the social network.
Handling known enemies and troublemakers is difficult, so imagining someone you don’t know in the digital world thread or harassing 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 them.
Also read: Lessons From Recent Cyberattacks
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is when someone misuses technology to embarrass, threaten, and give online harassment to others, targeting them with messages, text posts, or pictures with the motive of hurting and embarrassing.
It affects a lot to young teens since the person is 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 intimidating someone else.
6. Comments on sexuality, religion, race, or gender.
How does it differ from other bullying?
Well, in case of bullying other than cyberbullying, you know the culprit and know who 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, and visuals via messengers, or even create 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 mail to others. Even making videos of any incident and later sharing or blackmailing with them. If shared in the cyber world, 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, but 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, and hacking up accounts to bully. It’s common to develop a screen name similar to the victim’s name and chat with others pretending to be the victim. Using pictures from social media accounts to look authentic.
4. Indirect methods: Ganging up with others tweeting, and texting on social media without taking names yet the victim and the larger audience know for whom the post or comment is referring.
How does cyberbullying affect 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 feels 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 that something is out there gives the feeling of humiliation.
3. Hollowness: It happens majorly when 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 worthlessness.
4. Vengeful: Often kids at this age are repulsive and forgiving is difficult for them. Once they know who is targeting them or bullying them, the revenge thought or plot is dangerous.
5. Isolated: With such a feeling of humiliation, and hollowness they usually stay away and isolate themselves. They feel that 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 leads to cutting off all communication channels and leads towards isolation.
6. Depressed: All these leads affect a lot on their mental health and lead to depression. This is a major issue and because of this risk of suicide increases. They feel the best and straightforward way to get out of this pain is to end their life.
7. Scared: With threads, images, videos, comments, the text they take into a shell and they often stay scared.
How to prevent children from 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 pictures should be uploaded on social media and which not. Tell them once a picture or video is 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 should not be involved in any such activities as this comes under offense and is 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 services.
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 communication channels so they can share their tensions and worries related to cyberbullying.
© Ruchie Verma. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.
Disclaimer–This article is an advisory piece.