Cyberbullying is a serious problem that occurs to many online. According to NoBullying.com, 52% of young people say they have been cyberbullied and 20% of them get cyberbullied on a regular basis. Even though cyberbullying is most common among children, anyone could be a potential victim. It could be your friend, co-worker, child, or spouse. Everyone is vulnerable to cyberbullies on their cell phone and the internet.
Below is everything you need to know about cyberbullying, the different types, and how it can be prevented.
What Is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying, also known as Cyber Harassment, is when someone is being bullied online or on their cell phone. It typically occurs to teenagers but can happen to anyone. The most common places where cyber harassment occurs is on social media platforms, online forums, dating sites and apps, and text messages. Digital bullying actions could lead to stress, depression, anxiety, and in serious cases, suicide. Luckily, there are signs of cyberbullying that can be recognized.
Signs of Cyberbullying
Look out for these 5 signs someone is being bullied online.
- They’re secretive about online activities.
- Avoids participating in group activities and school events.
- Their mood has drastically changed.
- Uses their phone or computer less often.
- Stops confiding with friends and family.
5 Types of Cyberbullying
Honestly, there are too many types of cyberbullying to count! So, instead of listing them all, listed below is the 5 most common types of cyber harassment.
This form of online bullying mostly occurs on social media and dating sites and apps. Catfishing is when someone creates a fake online profile or account in order to establish a relationship with someone. For example, a sexual predator could create a fake profile of a teen on Facebook so they can lure in young victims.
In online dating, a person may pretend to be someone they’re not so they can seem more physically appealing. The TV show, Catfish, highlights this problem by focusing on real-life cases of people who have fallen victim to catfishing. Catfish has been highly popular in bringing this issue to light and has been on the air since 2012.
Now that you know what catfishing is, click here for some specific ways to avoid being catfished.
Cyberstalking is when someone monitors, solicits, and/or threatens another person online. Being threatened online can cause someone to feel uneasy and concerned for the safety of both themselves and loved ones.
Back in 2012 to 2013, there was a serious case of cyberstalking in Pennsylvania. Shane Holderer, 55, cyberstalked a 13-year-old girl on social media. He was sentenced to five years of probation for stalking in a sexual manner. Years later in 2016, Holderer continued to cyberstalk the young girl on Twitter and Instagram. Once officials found out, he was convicted once again.
It’s scary to think that convicted cyber stalkers could continue their efforts. So, what is being done about this? Well, the above story inspired a bill that is in the works. The Combat Online Predators Act details that there be enhanced penalties for cyberstalkers of minors by up to 5 years in prison. Along with this, the President on November 3rd, 2017 signed back into law the PROTECT Our Children Act. This act provides support and funding for law enforcement to investigate online crimes against minors.
Clearly, cyberstalking is being taken very seriously especially when against minors.
People want to use social media and other platforms to interact with their friends and family. Trolls ruin this experience. They purposely make insults, comments, and use language that is off-topic and will provoke a response. For example, a person commenting “You’re the ugliest person I have ever seen” on a photo you posted. If a person continually posts negative comments towards you, they are definitely trolling you.
A story that fits just this description is one about a teen named Melissa. She was just a normal teen and then one day, she started acting differently. She didn’t confide in her parents anymore, wanted to be alone, and cried often. It turns out, she was the victim of trolling. Melissa had posted on social media a photo of herself, and fellow classmates made nasty comments about her. They continued this throughout half the school year via social media and text messages. Melissa’s mother finally found out what was really going on by installing a spy app on Melissa’s cell phone. Thankfully, the mother found out in time especially since Melissa was having suicidal thoughts.
No one wants to be the victim of fraping. Fraping is when someone assumes your identity online and posts inappropriate and explicit content. A person’s identity could be assumed by either someone hacking their account or creating one using their photo and personal details.
This type of cyberbullying is especially damaging to adults. What if your employer were to see this content? It could result in you being fired! It can not only damage your professional image but your personal life as well. If your partner sees explicit content on your profile, they may believe you are cheating on them. This type of cyberbullying isn’t as well known but is just as damaging.
What’s unique about this form of cyberbullying is that you don’t even have to be online to be a victim! Exclusion is when someone is excluded from conversations just because they are not active online, have no social media profiles, or don’t have a cell phone. For example, a young kid not being able to talk about a trending YouTube video with friends just because they haven’t seen it yet. This type of digital bullying is most common among children.
Other notable forms of cyberbullying include social media catcalling, flaming, and video shaming.
Ways To Prevent Cyberbullying
Have Open Communication With Family
Most cyberbullying actions continue because the victims don’t feel comfortable sharing it with a loved one. Make sure you establish in your household a policy of open communication. All family members should feel comfortable with sharing their troubles and problems without being judged.
Only Friend People Online You Know
To prevent harassment and trolls commenting on your social media content, make sure your account is private and that you only friend people you know. By doing this, you won’t have to worry about your friends commenting negative, provocative statements.
Password Protect Your Accounts
It’s always good to have strong passwords for any online social and forum accounts you may have. Strong passwords usually consist of roughly 16 random characters comprised of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, punctuations, and symbols. This will lessen the likelihood that someone assumes your identity online.
Monitor Your Family’s Smartphones
Monitoring cell phone activities is a good way to not only make sure your family is safe from cyberbullies but to know what they are up to. Using Android or iPhone spy software, you would be able to see your family’s texts, emails, calls, social media activities, photos, videos, and much more. In the story about Melissa mentioned before, a spy app used by her mother came in handy to find out what was going on.
The bottom line is that cyberbullying can happen to anyone. The key is to take these preventative steps and educate yourself about this subject. If you or someone you know is a victim of cyberbullying, say something.