Cyberbullying is a public health problem that affects children, teenagers, and even young adults every day. Considering that more people begin using the internet and social media every year, the number of people who have been cyberbullied continues to increase. In fact, as stated in a study by Pew Research Center, 59% percent of teenagers say that they have been bullied online at some point in their lives. If not addressed, cyberbullying can lead to problems like extreme loneliness, decreased confidence, anxious thoughts, depressive feelings, and more.
What Is A CyberBully?
By definition, “cyberbullying” is using technology in the interest of harming other people. Similarly, a cyberbully is the person behind this technology that is causing this harm. Cyberbullies use devices (a mobile phone or computer) to log onto social media networks or join online games and target other individuals who are on these platforms. People cyberbully by name-calling, spreading rumors, and going out of their way to humiliate or harass someone.
Unlike in-person bullying, cyberbullying allows people to remain relatively anonymous and doesn’t require confrontation. Also, there are little to no barriers established online to stop people from cyberbullying. Cyberbullies don’t need to be physically dominant, popular, or any other typical characteristics of an in-person bully; all they need is access to the internet.
So why do people become cyberbullies? Unfortunately, there is no black-and-white answer to this. However, there are some triggers that could lead to someone becoming a cyberbully. Individuals may be more likely to become cyberbullies if they struggle with untreated mental health issues, have been bullied themselves, are dealing with conflict in their personal lives, want to try a new persona, have frequent downtime, or usually spend time alone. While some cyberbullies may target people out of pure boredom, others do it because they feel lonely or depressed. Ultimately, there are many different reasons why someone may decide to cyberbully.
6 Ways to Handle Cyberbullies
People who are cyberbullied are likely to experience negative thoughts and feelings that might result in unhealthy actions. Victims of cyberbullying may deal with feelings of distress, depression, anxiety, fearfulness, and more – these could lead to problems falling asleep, mood swings, poor performance at school or work, strained relationships with family and friends, substance abuse, suicidal ideations, and even self harm. If your child has been or is being cyberbullied, it’s important to try to handle the situation as soon as possible. While it may be difficult to deal with cyberbullies, you can definitely take steps to improve the situation.
Here are some ways for parents to handle cyberbullies:
- Instruct your child not to respond to the internet bully.
- Tell them to document every message and photo that shows cyberbullying.
- Ask your child to forward all records of cyberbullying to you.
- If the bullying comes from a classmate, report it to a teacher or staff member.
- In case of threats or extreme bullying, report behavior to the police.
- Reassure your child that they aren’t to blame for being bullied.
The strategies above may not completely eliminate cyberbullying, but it can help your child get closer to feeling completely safe and comfortable. There are also many resources available online and in-person to assist children who have experienced bullying and their parents.
Stopping CyberBullying For Good
Stopping cyberbullying for good requires school administration, lawmakers, and social media/gaming companies to take action against this problem. As a parent, you can volunteer with groups and non-profit organizations that promote the elimination of cyberbullying.
To learn more about cyberbullying and how to help your child if they’re being cyberbullied, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of mental health professionals at Elium Health. Give us a call at 866-552-3758 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to chat with a representative today.