Cyberbullying is becoming a larger problem than what our youth can handle alone. Because of the increased use of the internet and social networking sites everyone with access to the internet and social media is exposed, including adults. Research shows that cyberbullying can cause even more damage than traditional bullying. The mental health and the life of our youth is a concern. The purpose of this paper is to explore the difference between traditional bullying and its newest and toughest variant, cyberbullying.
Results indicated that the victims who have been affected by online harassment, are left feeling rejected, depressed, and worthless which often leads to the ultimate negative thought, suicide.
With new methods of communication come new threats. Since the beginning of time the life of many people has been marked with bullying, which was done with face to face confrontation and the knowledge of who the bully was. Cyberbullying is the new method of assault adopted mainly by middle schoolers and teens, which is mainly done by abusing the use of the internet and social media to spread harmful or cruel content to damage the feelings and image of a victim.
Cyberbullying is the newest and severest form of bullying compared to traditional bullying because of the inability to control and see the aggressor, bringing psychological effects for the victim such as aggression, depression, and withdrawal. Now the victim suffers endlessly with aggression coming from an unknown source that cannot be easily stopped due to how broad the internet and social media has become.
Cyberbullying has become prevalent because children and teens are more willing to say or do things online that they would not face-to-face (Draa & Sydney, 2009). Technology acts as a shield from consequences, allowing the offender to engage in certain behaviors without fear of discovery or justice.
Back in 1995, nearly two million children were accessing the Internet, but today the number has surpassed 77 million (Draa et al, 2009). By 2008 94% of teens were using the Internet or email and 85% of teens, ages 12-17, were engaging in some form of electronic personal communication including sending and receiving emails, text messaging, and posting comments on social networking sites (Draa et al, 2009). Nowadays most of the youth rely primarily on the phone for communication by the use of cell phones. Another worrying aspect of the spectrum is that the youth has developed a different language, cyber language, that is commonly used for communicating in the numerous platforms the internet can offer (Draa et al, 2009). This language uses abbreviations and acronyms (Draa et al, 2009). These are shorter and easier words to type than full words or sentences. It cannot be deciphered easily, which makes it difficult for parents and educators to understand sometimes. There are hundreds of acronyms and abbreviations used and the list keeps on getting longer. Some common ones include LOL (laughing out loud), TTYL (talk to you later), and BRB (be right back) (Draa et al, 2009).
A cyberbully may be any person the victim knows or a group of strangers as well, hiding behind a computer. The ability to choose an identifier makes it difficult and many times impossible to identify the culprits. The bully may seek involvement from other people who know the victim in order to attack from many angles and to obtain information about the victim that could be used later on (Draa et al, 2009). Methods of cyberbullying include but are not limited to reveling personal photos or videos through defamatory personal websites, emails, name calling, cell phone and pager text messages, and threatening (Draa et al, 2009). Adolescents can create an account without parental consent. Although many sites impose age restrictions, anyone can gain access by imputing a false age. It is possible to create a website about someone a person or group does not like, invite people to post comments, and post photographs of an individual without his or her knowledge. (Draa et al, 2009). Cyberbullying occurs in different formats, but the means used most of the time are social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, where individuals create ‘profiles’ to communicate with others. Internet chat rooms, virtual places where people get together and chat about common topics. Email, asynchronous communication of text, pictures, or sounds from one computer to another. A person must have an email account and know the recipient’s email address to send a message. Message boards or discussion groups allow for asynchronous group communication on a common topic. Discussions are conducted by posting messages for others to read and respond to. The most important one is text/digital image messaging which is sent through mobile devices such as cell phones, laptops, and tablets (Draa et al, 2009).
Some teens and children refuse to tell adults and authorities about their concerns regarding cyber enemies, fearing that they may overreact by taking away their computer, Internet access, or cell phones. Many teenagers are unwilling to risk getting their gadgets taken away because without these tools, they would feel socially isolated and become more susceptible to teasing (Strom, 2005). Victims of cyberbullying can display a broad range of reactions, varying from seeking revenge, and requiring social support to emotional destruction including depression, anxiety, frustration, or low self-esteem. (Sobba, Paez & Bensel, 2017) A child who’s being bullied may display signs such as withdrawing, lethargy, depression, extreme change in behavior and frequent illnesses to avoid socialization, says Jodee Blanco, a school consultant and author of two books on bullying (Kornblum, 2017). Kristen Sobba , a ********, states that those who have been cyberbullied feel less popular, are more dependent on the Internet, and take more Internet-related risks leading to further exposure to harassment or even becoming bullies themselves (Sobba et al, 2017).
As an example of how harmful cyberbullying can be, 13-year-old Megan Meier killed herself in 2006 after receiving devastating messages from someone masquerading as a teen boy who had developed an online relationship with her (Kornblum, 2017m). In another case, five girls from Florida, faced charges over an incident in which they were accused of beating a 16-year-old colleague in revenge for her saying offensive things about them on MySpace. They videotaped the beating and intended to post it on MySpace and YouTube, says Chip Thullbery, state attorney spokesman (Kornblum, 2017). ‘Cyberbullying can be even more destructive’ than face-to-face bullying ‘because you get a sense that the whole world is being exposed to what is being said to you.’ says Bill Bond, a former principal who tours the country speaking to principals about school violence on behalf of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (Kornblum, 2017).
In 2013, a total of 86,887 students attended 62 junior high schools in Taipei City, 18,353 students attended 25 junior high schools in Yilan county, Taiwa, where a study by the Institutional Review Board at National Taiwan University was done. A self-administered questionnaire was given and assessed by a team of 8 experts (Chang, Chiu, Miao, Chen, & Lee, 2015). The factors studied include tobacco and alcohol use, depression, self-esteem, and parental attachment. All of these are negatively correlated with cyberbullying. This study found that Internet addiction and cyberbullying persecution were associated with depression. Adolescents with an Internet addiction may have more chances to engage in negative behaviors against others, while cyberbullying experiences may aggravate depression (Chang et al, 2015).
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (2009), 19 states have enacted legislation in an attempt to regulate and control cyberbullying and cyber threats. Because cyberbullying is relatively new, schools and other community entities are unsure about what actions to take to prevent and control it (Draa et al, 2009). However, this does not mean that preventive actions should not be taken. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, over 40% of teens in the United States are victims of cyberbullying but only 25% of teens tell their parents (Sobba et al, 2017).
Prevention starts at home by developing close communication with adolescents and kids and encouraging them to talk about problems such as episodes of digital harassment. No personal information should be shared at all online, learn about the right identities that can help to report and support systems, do not believe what everyone tells you online, do not meet anywhere with a stranger you have only talked to online, never respond to cyberbullies but always keep the messages as evidence (Strom, 2005).
The purpose of this study is to compare traditional bullying and cyberbullying from many angles. This study found that adolescents who have been harassed by cyberbullying experiences need immediate attention, because its consequences could be lifelong or fatal. The findings of this study are useful for society to gain insight and conscience on the battles that the victims have to fight every day and also on what goes through the bully’s mind. This type of bullying is more difficult to stop since the source of aggression is unknown and the materials used are personal in nature. Even though there is not enough research on cyberbullying, the studies that have been done are greatly helping prevent future cases by unmasking the common ways in which harm is done.