By Kenneth Javellana, Guest Contributor to TechAddiction
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are solely those of the author and are not necessarily the views of TechAddiction and/or Dr. Conrad.
“When you get bullied in school, you can go home and forget about it,” said the older woman. Seated across her was the host of the show.
“But when you are being bullied online it’s almost impossible to avoid,” she continued.
The woman who gave this powerful statement was a child psychologist. She was being interviewed on a lifestyle show regarding cyberbullying. Her strong words immediately gave me goose bumps because there was some truth in it.
Internet access and its role in cyberbullying
The internet is increasingly accessible to the public. Internet-ready devices, tablets, smartphones, and netbooks have made their way into our homes. However, even the safety of home can’t protect children and teenagers from bullying because these days most bullying happens online. More often than not cyberbullies use social networks like Facebook and Twitter for this purpose.
Offline vs. online bullying
There is no doubt that offline bullying has reached alarming levels. Graphic videos of teenagers and children being bullied by their peers go viral on social networks. Some go as far as making it to the mainstream news headlines, increasing public awareness on the realities of bullying. A fact of real-world bullying is that it often combines physical assault with emotional torment - both of which are equally harmful to the victim. It may be argued that compared to cyberbullying, it is easier to recognize and prevent bullying in the school setting and within the community.
Cyberbullying works a bit differently. It may appears harmless since it doesn’t get physical; at least, not in the beginning. However, parents and teachers must realize that it still poses many dangers to a child’s physical and emotional state. Due to the pervasiveness of cell phones among teens, the popularity of online social networks, and the relative anonymity of the internet, it can be quite difficult to know when it is occurring and also, to prevent it even after learning that it is happening.
Cyberbullies can be reported for abuse in social networks and other online services where the bullying is taking place. However, it takes time before these reports are attended to. Until then, the victim would have to endure continued torment.
When bullies are kicked out of online communities, they can easily join again by creating new accounts under different emails.
The consequences of cyber bullying
Emotional stress can leads to mental problems. Stress caused by cyber bullying can lead to anxiety and depression. A child or teen may display a lack of appetite, sleep disturbances, incessant worrying, irritability, social withdrawal, and other symptoms. Unfortunately, there have also been cases of cyberbullying leading to suicide.
Cyberbullying can lower self-esteem. In a 2010 study conducted by Hinduja and Patchin titled Cyberbullying and Self-Esteem, there exists a “moderate and statistically significant relationship” between low self-esteem and cyberbullying. Based on the information they collected, students who encountered cyberbullies had much lower self-esteem than those who experienced little to no online bullying.
It may lead to physical assault. If a cyberbully is within the same school or city as a child, it places the victim at risk being confronted or attacked in person. Bullies can use the internet to terrorize their victims with threats, demeaning comments, and name calling at the beginning before confronting them in real-life. Some bullies simply go online to taunt their victims when outside of their reach and also bully them in person
Victims can be traumatized. Ideally, one can move on from bullying when it has passed. However, this is much easier said than done. Months or years of bullying can lead to emotional and psychological trauma that may deeply impact a person long after the bullying has stopped. In children, it might cause them to carry feelings of vulnerability and hopelessness well into adulthood.
Advice for parents
As a parent in a technology-driven world you should be worried about cyberbullying. Even though it happens online its effects on a child’s emotional well-being must not be downplayed. In fact, cyberbullying poses the same dangers and risks as offline bullying except it is much more difficult to control. Talk to your children and encourage them to be open about the interactions they have online. Let them know that they can come to you about anything without being judged or criticized. If you discover that you child is being bullied online, make sure to then take steps to stop it is soon as possible and prevent it from happening again.
Guest Author Bio
This article was written by Kenneth Javellana, an advocate of responsible parenthood in the modern-day setting. At times he also writes about health-related articles that can benefit the family. Ken is an analyst at Broadband Expert, a company that caters to businesses in need of cheap internet.
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Should I Be Worried About Cyberbullying?