With this week being Anti-Bullying week, we thought we’d create a blog devoted to the impact of cyber bullying and some top tips on how to spot the signs.
Cyber bullying is becoming more and more widespread in recent times with the influx of new technologies, new social media platforms and the increased sense of anonymity that comes as a result of living in an increasingly digitalised culture. Cyber bullying is defined as the use of any digital technology to threaten, tease, upset or humiliate another person. Unfortunately, bullies have a whole range of options open to them when it comes to targeting their victim. This can take the form of text messages, Facebook messaging, online games, chat apps and social networking sites, proving that bullying doesn’t end at home. Somewhere once thought of as a sanctuary can actually become just another place where a child (or adult) can be bullied and threatened. Just earlier this year we witnessed the unfortunate impact of popular AI chat app ‘SimiSimi’ as it was manipulated to display nasty messages in relation to online users.
All forms of bullying are ugly and can have detrimental effects on the target – from decreased self-confidence and self-worth to more extreme cases of depression and suicide. Cyber bullying is unique in that it is widespread instantaneously – the moment the send button is clicked a vast audience can be affected. It is repetitive, with multiple digital platforms from which to carry out attacks and it never sleeps- it can impact at any time of day or night.
Cyber bullying is on the rise, in fact 1 in 5 teenagers and 40% of adults have experienced some form of it. It’s also hard to track down, as although it’s easy to collate evidence, it’s sometimes hard to find the perpetrators due to increased anonymity online.
With a new form of bullying comes many new methods of carrying out attacks with real emotional affects. Here are just a few:
- Catfishing: Posing as someone else and luring a victim into creating an online relationship.
- Cyber Stalking: Sending repetitive threats of physical harm via online platforms.
- Fraping: Logging in on someone’s social media account, impersonating them and posting inappropriate content.
- Outing: Sharing personal and private information and media about someone online with an intention to humiliate them.
- Griefing: Abusing users online via online gaming channels.
It can be hard to spot the signs when someone is being bullied but here are a few to look out for:
- Becomes nervous when receiving a text/communication on their mobile device.
- Seems uneasy about going to school or work and pretends to be ill.
- Unwilling to share information about online activity.
- Unexplained anger or depression.
- Abruptly shutting off/ walking away from a device mid-use.
- Unexplained weight loss/gain.
1. Talk and show support. Find the right time to approach the person and talk to them if you think they are being bullied. Create a plan for how you’ll help them to get through it.
2. Don’t retaliate – Advise them not to respond to abusive messages.
3. Keep evidence – Take screenshots for proof.
4. Block the bullies – In the case of repetitive abuse block the sender and report them to the social/gaming online platform.
5. Keep the support going- Check in and let them know you are there for them. Perhaps suggest counselling to help them deal with the affects.
6. Take it further – In extreme cases and where you feel the victim is in danger consider informing the police.
For more information, this website is a great resource.
Have you or someone you know been the victim of cyber bullying? What advice would you give?