Bullies have been around for a very long time. But technology has given such bullies a whole new platform for their terrible actions. Sitting behind the screen under a false name or a fake identity, people can write anything about another individual. Adults might have learned to cope, but children are very vulnerable. These activities can have serious emotional consequences for children.
Cyberbullying happens in multiple forms. Some of them are discussed below.
Flaming is the online act of posting insults, often laced with profanity or other offensive languages on social networking sites. This is a common thing that happens amongst children, especially the popular vs unpopular kids. Flaming is a direct impact of anonymity that the internet provides cyberbullies. For example, kids often argue on private messages and then threaten each other to cause harm in school.
When someone sends a string of nasty and mean messages with the intent to insult, it is called harassment. Online harassment is a perpetual problem that kids and adults face alike. Bullies tend to have many reasons for doing such actions, but mostly to gain attention. For their mental health and peace, kids should be taught not to give bullies any importance. For example, when a child takes a stand against some wrong in school, the wrongdoers keep troubling that child unanimously through different sources like texts, messages, notes etc.
Dissing or speaking in a way to criticise someone online is called denigration. Bullies post a lot of rumours and posts targeting an individual’s reputation and self-esteem. Sometimes it also includes blackmailing or threatening and posting derogatory jokes or gossip. Such cyberbullying has a very long term effect on a child’s confidence. For example, a group of children form a hate club online to target one child and post all kinds of mean stuff on it. It happens very often.
Bullies impersonate another individual online and then post material to get that person into trouble or danger. Sometimes bullies impersonate to damage the friendships and relationships that an individual has. Impersonating someone to damage their reputation is punishable by law also. For example, out of sheer jealousy, a child in school might impersonate another by finding out their password and messaging their girlfriend or boyfriend. Their own crush on that individual might motivate the child.
When a bully shares private information about a victim online by posting personal messages online, forwarding such information into public groups or sharing images of the victim. This is called outing. In this case, the victims know their perpetrator because they have shared personal details in the past. The impact of this is severe on the victim. For example, children often click embarrassing pictures of another secretly in school and then within seconds it’s on everyone’s phone.
As the word says, fooling someone into sharing private and embarrassing information about themselves and then posting it on public platforms is called trickery. For example, many times, children befriend another, only to extract some piece of information and then start ignoring. These kids also share that extracted information with the rest of their friends or tell people who didn’t have to know about it only to humiliate them.
When someone is intentionally barred from an online group, it is known as exclusion. This also impacts the self-esteem and confidence of children upon being left out by their peers in any group. For example, if some child disagrees with the popular opinion of the class, often that child is knowingly excluded from online chats.
When someone is put through repeated, intense harassment and denigration by another online, it is called cyberstalking. It creates significant fear in the one who is being victimised. For example, teens often start cyberstalking after break-ups in school. This eventually leads to revengeful sharing of personal messages and images on public platforms.
Cyberbullying can have long-lasting effects on children. It causes them a lot of mental stress, and their health also gets affected. Their confidence is undermined. In some children, it leads to loneliness and depression as well. Their grades also get affected. Hence it’s imperative that parents stay involved and keep a close watch on their child’s activities. Always ensure that you have conversations with your children so that they’re comfortable in sharing their problems with you.