Bullying is an evil tale as old as time. It’s that malicious behaviour and repeated patterns of troubled teenagers that the hallways of every school and the corners of the streets have been witnessing for years. When our lives were simultaneously shifted to the virtual world, the ugly parts weren’t left behind. That’s when cyberbullying was birthed, becoming the villain of the digital world and disturbing the peace across different platforms.
Cyberbullying is an alarmingly prevalent form of cybercrime in our modern world. It manifests itself in different forms and feeds off poor victims who innocently surf the web. Contrary to common belief, the absence of physical violence doesn’t make it any less harmful than the traditional form of bullying.
Depression and anxiety are disturbingly on the rise, and one cannot deny the role of cyberbullying in that matter. In fact, this benevolent act isn’t to be underestimated, given the immense toll it can take on the victims’ mental health and well-being. Here, we’ll explore the different faces of cyberbullying, the factors behind its increase, and the statistics related to its availability across various social media platforms.
5 Different Manifestations of Cyberbullying
Bullying in the virtual world isn’t that different from the traditional form; however, the bully can keep a lid on their identity, making matters worse. We’ll briefly introduce you to what is considered cyber crimes so that you’re fully aware of when you’re being bullied online.
Well, harassment and bullying are pretty synonymous; they both define the act of intimidating or badgering someone, making them feel uncomfortable. This can take place on social media in the form of posting rude or negative comments, blackmailing, sending unwanted or unpleasant messages, and so on. So, any time you sense discomfort or come across hateful content, make sure you report it immediately.
2. Spreading Rumours
Spreading rumours and gossiping have always had destructive consequences on the victim. The thing with social media is that news does spread like fire, and it’s hard to take it down once it’s uploaded. While taking legal action is necessary for such incidents, it may not lessen the intensity of the damages this form of cyberbullying causes. Victims of rumours and gossip usually have their confidence take a nosedive, not to mention the negative impact on their productivity in their personal lives as well as academic pursuits.
Doxing or doxxing is the term used to describe the act of publishing someone’s private information or exposing their secrets without consent. It’s an alteration of the word ‘docs’, which is an abbreviation of ‘documents’, referring to the action of releasing someone’s personal documents. Revealing someone’s address, number, or personal pictures without authorisation is all sorts of cyberbullying that shouldn’t go unpunished.
Well, we’re pretty sure you know what stalking is, and apparently, cyberstalking is just the same action but online. Cyberstalking is a dangerous form of cyberbullying where the victim may feel watched and unsafe. Examples of cyberstalking include joining the same groups as the target, tracking their locations, or contacting their own social circles online.
5. Identity Theft
The internet has offered a lot of useful utilities that made our lives easier and faster, but it also left a huge void for all sorts of cyberbullying. Stealing someone’s identity has never been easier, and that’s actually petrifying. Hacking doesn’t need a special field of study; it’s now easy for everyone to learn and actually do it. Identity theft in the digital world may need no more than basic personal information like name, DOB, and address, and anyone can be you behind the screens.
Unsettling Statistics Related to Various Incidents of Cyberbullying
Statistics in every aspect of our lives contribute to keeping track of the needed number to analyse problems, track progress, and enhance performance. While we’re grateful for the role of statistics in keeping us well informed, we can’t deny how some numbers can come as a shock. Cyberbullying-related statistics are among the numbers that keep one feeling unsettled. However, keeping track of unfortunate incidents while working towards betterment is essential.
Statistics of Reported Incidents of Online Bullying
- At least 60% of parents with teenage children (14-18) have reported tm being bullied.
- In 2020, cyberbullying on social media increased by 70% during the pandemic lockdown.
- According to research findings, children who are bullied on social media are 9 times more likely to challenge identity theft incidents.
- 27% of middle school students have reported being bullied, while 23% confessed to bullying someone on social media.
- 81% of young people have reported that online bullying is much easier to get away with.
- Victims of social media cyberbullying are more likely to be females, with 15% of young girls reported being victims of different online crimes, while the percentage of boys was only 6%.
- 60% of people have reported witnessing incidents of online harassment or bullying but didn’t intervene.
- 81% of those witnesses have reported that they would be more compelled to stop a cyberbullying incident if they could do it anonymously.
- 36% of teenage victims had asked the bully to stop bothering them
Cyberbullying Statistics Across Different Platforms
- Bullying is now more likely to happen online, with a percentage of 19.2%.
- 11% of online harassment takes place through text messages.
- 7.9% of bullying incidents take place through online video games.
- 90% of online gamers reported experiencing racist jokes or hate speech during their gaming sessions.
- 3.3% of cyberbullying occurred through fake e-mails.
- According to different studies, Instagram is the social media app where most victims report the occurrence of their experience, a whopping 42%
- 79% of kids who use YouTube have reported being cyberbullied.
- With the majority of TikTok users being young adults, 64% of them have reported being bullied at least once.
4 Reasons Behind the Rise of Cyberbullying
One thing that we’re sure of is that kids and teenagers nowadays are more aware than the older generations when it comes to mental health and well-being. However, that doesn’t stop cyberbullying from spreading like wildfire all across the social media platforms. What could possibly be the reasons or motives for kids to keep cyberbullying?
Standing the reasons why can be a vital part of finding solutions to this growing issue. So, here are some hidden reasons, we believe, that may compel young adults and children to treat their peers in such a hurtful manner
1. The Anonymity of the Internet
Although social media has given everyone the opportunity to connect with others, it also paved the way for fake identities or anonymity. Many young users resort to cyberbullying, for they believe they will easily get away with it, especially if they’re being anonymous or use fake accounts. Some have reported feeling funny or popular, especially when their malicious actions get so much attention.
Even more, those who would never bully someone in person may still engage in cyberbullying as it’s easier not to see the reaction of the victim. This takes away the opportunity of sympathising with the victim, especially for those who don’t lack empathy and are aware of the pain they’re inflicting on the other person.
2. Seeking Out Revenge
In many cases, those who get bullied cope with their negative feelings by caving in and isolating. However, others would set their minds on getting revenge as a coping mechanism, unaware of how unhealthy this could be. These people are often referred to as bully-victims, and their motives are driven by their pain, promising to make other people feel as terrible as they had felt.
Cyberbullying may give many victims a sense of relief, believing that they are not the only ones going through these painful emotions. Thus, they often prey on individuals they believe to be weaker or more vulnerable than they are. The bottom line is that online bullying may increase the number of bullies, for it gives a falsely safe environment for the victims to fire back, even if in the wrong direction.
3. Lack of Supervision
Many teenagers and children lack supervision from their parents. Some of them experience negative emotions as a result, so they resort to the internet, trying to find ways to fill the void in their lives. Unfortunately, many keep themselves entertained by harassing and bullying others online, and that’s another reason the online bullying issue is on the rise.
Getting reactions for their mean behaviour is still an outlet for those who lack attention in their own households. They opt for stirring up some drama to make their lives more exciting and less boring, even if they hurt other people along the way.
4. Peer Pressure
For many years, media has been feeding our brains that there are social ladders, creating more competitive individuals who fight to get to the top. There has always been this notion that bullies are usually the most popular kids in schools that everyone wants to be friends with, right?
Well, although many young adults have better judgement, they may go against their beliefs for the sake of fitting in. Bullying others on social media fits the criteria of being a cool kid, so many resort to cyberbullying in order to feel accepted and blend in.
Serious Measures We Should Take to Prevent Cyberbullying
Bullying is a real issue that should be taken seriously, given that it may have negative impacts on the victim’s mental health and well-being. With the ever-evolving nature of the internet and the growing popularity of social media, it gets harder to put an end to online harassment.
The sad part is although cyberbullying is more common among children and young adults, adults aren’t immune to it either. So, real actions must be taken against these hideous crimes to prevent them in the future.
Awareness can be the cure to all the issues of the world. Once people are aware of their actions’ negative impacts, a lot of change can actually occur. One of the things that many cyberbullies aren’t aware of is the damage they inflict. Thus, awareness campaigns can play a vital role in educating people about the significance of mental health and how cyberbullying can significantly compromise it. You can never guarantee a complete wipeout of those bullies, but at least their numbers will dramatically drop, especially on social media platforms.
Emphasising the Importance of Privacy Online
Stopping the bullies is one thing, but protecting yourself against their plotting is another. All social media applications provide different layers of security and privacy. The best thing you can do to make the most of those privacy settings is to ensure you keep your content and information private and away from bullies.
This is your first step to avoid being a victim of identity fraud, theft of financial information, or doxing. Also, make sure you safeguard your password to prevent bullies and cyber criminals from getting into your personal accounts.
Stand Up for the Bullies
If there is one thing we know about online bullying, it’s that bullies strive for attention and create drama. They also feel empowered when there is a crowd cheering for them. Unfortunately, most cyberbullying witnesses admit to not intervening, so we may need to stop the passive reactions to take one step ahead.
Bullies are more likely to cave in when there’s a crowd standing up for them, for there is always a sense of security in more significant numbers. Start by yourself, and you may encourage others to weigh in and defend the victim.
Take Legal Actions
Luckily, cyber crimes don’t always go unpunished, especially when there is enough evidence to convict the bully. Cyberbullying may be benevolent, but at least it can be a shred of tangible evidence. Even anonymous accounts can be easily tracked down through their IP addresses. So, whenever you’re cyberbullied, visit the nearest law enforcement and take legal action against the bully. When the laws are serious about the magnitude of these vicious crimes, many will think twice before committing cyber crimes.
With the growing popularity of social media and the advancements in technology, we can only expect cyberbullying to evolve. Understanding the real psychology behind cyberbullies goes a long way in handling the problem and coping with its negative consequences. However, imposing severe sanctions will, at least, limit the number of online harassment incidents in the future.