Cyberbullying, or “online” bullying, is bullying that happens on the internet or on a mobile device. As technologies grow and change over time, so do new ways to use them to carry out acts of cyberbullying.
The rapid rise of smartphones has given bullies the ability to quickly escalate a situation, since they don’t have to wait to go home and log on to a social network. They can do it on lunch right at school.
Bullying and cyberbullying aren’t totally different things. They’re examples of the same kind of behavior, just expressed digitally. It’s often hard to separate bullying and cyberbullying, since a youth’s experience these days in both the online and offline worlds are so closely connected. For example, many online victims know their bullies in real life even though they might only be bullied by him or her online.
Cyberbullying can lead to real life bullying, and of course, regular bullying can spill into cyberbullying.
Conflicts dealing with relationships that start out offline may carry over to social media sites, cell phones, etc., or vice versa, and escalate or turn into cyberbullying. For example: A prank pulled in the cafeteria or looker room at school results in ongoing social humiliation through pictures shared via cell phones. Conversely, it could start with a nasty Facebook post which leads to verbal/physical bullying at school.
It’s important to avoid responding to threatening messages. Save the messages or inappropriate pictures in a folder and get off of the site, or close out of the chat app. If you’re being cyberbullied on a social networking site, take a screen shot, because many bullies have learned to delete the offending message or picture “after the point is made”.
Tell an adult what happened or seek support from a close, trusted friend. In some cases, it may be necessary for you to report a cyberbullying situation to school officials and/or the police.
Bullies don’t have to wait to track down a victim in the cafeteria, gym, school locker or the route home. They can bully on their phones. Likewise, the victims can’t avoid the bullying. For this reason alone, it can be more devastating to a child than any adult can image.