According to a study by Science Daily, around 34 percent of people feel that they have been cyberbullied in their life, with 17 percent proclaiming it had happened in the last 30 days. Not only that, but 70 percent said that rumors have been spread about them online.
In the age of technology, humans have become more synced more than ever before. Digital software makes it easier for us to connect with one another, but is that always a good thing?
A study at Pew Research Center found that around 95 percent of teens are on the internet with 85 percent being connected through social media as well. In this day and age, a new form of bullying has become rampant throughout the digital community, aptly named Cyberbullying. Stopbullying.gov defines Cyberbullying as “bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content.”
Cyberbullying can come in many different forms, with Securly Blog listing out 10 different methods, such as harassment, cyberstalking, exclusion and countless others.
To get some more insight, Kelley Howard, former high school assistant principal and middle school principal, as well as Gull Lakes Intervention specialist, helped clear up some questions regarding Cyberbullying.
Howard said that first it’s important to define bullying.
“Bullying is defined as a repeated, aggressive behavior, toward someone where there is a real or perceived imbalance of power,” Howard said. “Often, people state that they are being bullied when in fact they are participating in a mutual, nasty exchange. The imbalance of power does not exist.”
Howard said that cyberbullying is a one-sided unwelcome, aggressive/threatening communication via technology. But how do you know a really is being cyberbullied?
Howard said one big indication is “if they receive aggressive/threatening electronic messages from someone that they have not engaged with verbally.”
According to Net Nanny, some other signs a person is being Cyberbullied can varied widely from simply being nervous about going to school to becoming depressed or suicidal.
If someone around you looks like they could be being Cyberbullied Howard says that the victim often “will communicate that they are receiving threatening messages.”
“If you have a friend who appears intimidated by someone, ask them why,” Howard said.
Effects of Cyberbullying can be very damaging to a person.
“Cyberbullying or unwarranted electronic aggressive communication is unnerving,” Howard said. “It can undermine a person’s ability to function productively. It can promote illogical thinking, imagining things that ‘could’ happen. It can make people physically ill.”
Trying to get behind the logic of why people Cyberbully, Howard explained why kids and adult participate in it.
“It is a way to be bold while not being accountable for your actions,” Howard said. “The internet can provide access to people that are not part of your social circle. It can also make the perpetrator feel a false sense of protection by being anonymous.”
According to the same study by Science Daily, the most common reports revolve posting on social media, not just using the easy connection to spread rumors. Science Daily stated that the “most commonly reported behaviors included spreading rumors online (60 percent), posting mean comments online (58 percent), or threatening to hurt someone online (54 percent).”
Howard reflected on the effect the internet has negatively our generation, and said that “like anything used in excess, it has negative effects on society.”
“using it effectively and productively is a byproduct of experience and maturity,” she explained. “The access that the internet provides has required schools, specifically, to respond in new and effective ways. A frustration exists in the inability to keep up with the changes and maximize the usefulness.”
In the past, Gull Lake has had issues with Cyberbullying, even including anonymous hate accounts on Facebook. Howard says that Gull Lake is very prepared to handle more situations similar to this though.
“Gull Lake is a proactive school district,” she said. “Parents are the first teacher and line of defense when teaching kids social norms and behaviors. The school will communicate with both students and their families, investigate the genesis of the conflict, and apply appropriate actions to eliminate the conflict or communication.”
While technology can be a very slippery slope when concerning social interaction, it can also be a place full of knowledge and communication.
When going on social media, always be aware of what you post and who you choose to associate yourselves with. If you or someone you know is dealing with Cyberbullying, contact someone who can help, and visit this site for more information.