What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that is carried out through the internet or over technology, such as social media, chat rooms, direct messaging, text messages, emails, or in the comment section of a post or web page. According to some estimates, nearly half of American teens have experienced cyberbullying.
Examples of cyberbullying behavior are:
- Teasing and making fun of others
- Spreading of rumors online
- Sending unwanted messages
- Threatening to hurt someone
- Telling someone to kill themselves
- Pretending to be someone else online to get pictures or personal information out of a person, aka catfishing
Cyberbullying can happen to anyone and the bully can act anonymously. People can also be bullied online by groups of people such as classmates or collective members of an online community.
How You Feel If You Are Being Cyberbullied
Just like bullying in real life, cyberbullying can have terrible effects on a person. Being bullied can lower your self-esteem and you might feel alone, sad, angry and scared. If you are being bullied, it’s not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you. Don’t be afraid to let someone know that you are being bullied—they might be able to help you.
In some extreme situations, cyberbullying can be illegal, but in every instance, bullying is wrong. If you feel that your safety is threatened, call 911 or your local police.
How to Stop Cyberbullies
If you are being cyberbullied, it’s possible that you’re feeling powerless and isolated. However, there are actions you can take to stop the problem.
Keep a record (including time and date). This may help you (or the police) to find out who is sending the messages.
Tell someone. Talk to someone you trust, like a parent, friend, counselor or teacher.
Contact your phone or Internet service provider and report what is happening. They can help you block messages or calls from certain senders.
If messages are threatening or serious, get in touch with the police. Cyberbullying, if it’s threatening, is illegal. You don’t need to put up with that!
Don’t reply to bullying messages. It’ll only get worse if you do. By replying, the bully gets what they wants. Often if you don’t reply, the bully will leave you alone. Take advantage of the blocking feature that exists on most social media platforms.
Change your contact details. Get a new username, e-mail and phone number if you have to. When you’ve switched things over, only give your close friends and family the new contact information. It can also be helpful to turn off anonymous messages (or direct messaging altogether).
Keep your username and passwords secret. Keep your personal information private so it doesn’t fall into the hands of someone who will misuse it.
Information for this article was provided by:
Embrace Civility in the Digital Age
Enough is Enough
Pew Internet & American Life Project