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Cyberbullying is a recurrent reason of emotional distress among children and adolescents. This situation becomes further complex by interpersonal safety issues. These safety issues come through the peer group of adolescents and are difficult to control and monitor. This paper will give an account of cyber bullying, some common responses of adolescents to cyberbullying and the ways to fight it. There exist a lot of technological tools to combat cyberbullying. But it is an interpersonal issue in the social situation. It is, therefore, necessary to build a foundation of knowledge about this subject. It is also necessary to impart knowledge on how to avoid and reduce bullying on the Internet world. There is a distinctive nature of cyber bullying. It is necessary to know the awareness level of adolescents and value system in society and school. There is a distinctive nature of cyber bullying in all places. Traditional bullying is a long factor that has affected children of all ages. (Hinduja, 2007)
With the emergence of Internet, this bullying has taken a new form. Most of the victims are the teens and adolescents. They are easy targets as they are the fresh candidates on the internet world and do not know much about what happens there. Bullying is a risk factor for social and emotional alteration among children. Most bully victims are from age 15 to 18 years. The perpetrators are turning towards technology to get their victims. Technology does not only include social networking sites or Internet. It also includes other forms of technology like mobiles, pagers or any similar forms. Cyber bullies find their targets easily 24/7 with technology. It becomes easy for them to find and then harass their targets. There is a distinctive nature of cyber bullying. It is essential to know the awareness level of adolescents and value system in society and school. There is a distinctive nature of cyber bullying in all places. (Juvonen, 2008)
Forms of Cyber Bullying
Cyber Bullies have an easy access to their victims any time. Some forms of cyberbullying are:
- Electronic sending of rude and angry messages. It is called "Flaming."
- Continuously sending messages that harass, insult or threaten.
- Watching the activities of the victims and threatening them to harm and intimidate wherever they go. It is called "Cyber Stalking."
- There exists denigration. The bullies humiliate, put-down and spread are cruel and brutal rumors.
- The bullies sometimes also pretend to be someone else and adapt an entirely different identity. They get information and damage the reputation of the victim. It is "Masquerading" and is the most common form of bullying.
- There is also a form of bullying that even known and familiar people do. They share the information, which was shared with them in private. It is called "Outing."
- Finally, there is “exclusion”. The bullies maliciously create groups through chats, games or forums and gang up against one person.
Cyber Bullying also occurs when there are relationship difficulties. These difficulties can be rough patches in teen romance or break-ups. It can also be the envy from the success of one's colleague. People who belong to some communities also suffer cyber bullying because they belong to a particular race, ethnic group, gender, sexual orientation or disabilities. A survey of 500 adolescents reveals 5 percent of teens suffers cyber bullying more than thrice a month. And 10 percent of children suffer bullying at least once every week. These statistics are shocking and require immediate consideration.(Mitchell, 2007)
The Impact Of Cyberbullying On Psychological Health And Well-Being
There are researchers that examine the consequences of bullying on the emotional health of adolescents. The victims of cyber bullying experience a lack of acceptance in their friend circles. These victims are likely to succumb to social withdrawal. They suffer a lower self-esteem turn to a depressive mood. They engage in antisocial and maladaptive attitudes. They are also at a risk of dependency on drug and alcohol. They are at a greater risk to develop depression and suicidal tendencies. There also is a possibility that the bully continues even after adolescence. It can persist up to 19-20 years, which is adulthood. Studies also suggest that cyber bullies also have a history of getting bullied by traditional face-to-face ways.
Cyber Bullying can stretch throughout the life of the target at all times of day and night. It causes a huge damage to self-esteem and lowers the academic achievement. It also disturbs the emotional well being. For example, the research by Schenk and Fremouw tells that the victims of cyber bullying show higher measures in depression, phobia, anxiety and paranoia. Studies related to cyber victims also show that victims display a higher risk of getting into depression. They have visible psychosomatic symptoms like headaches, sleeplessness and abdominal pain. Sometimes these victims also show symptoms like excessive vomiting and nervousness. These symptoms are very similar to the victims of face-to-face victims. They end up feeling unsafe and become isolated from the world. It happens even at home. The victims tell about a range of emotional troubles they feel. The victims feel unsafe going to school, college or any social event. They have antisocial attitudes and succumb to alcohol and drug misuse.. There exist a lot of technological tools to combat cyberbullying. But it is an interpersonal issue in the social situation. It is, therefore, necessary to build a foundation of knowledge about this subject. It is also necessary to impart knowledge on how to avoid and reduce bullying on the Internet world.
He most basic way of dealing with cyberbullying is taking a step in this direction firstly. There are whole lists of policies that work in this direction. There are also websites dedicated to working in this direction. Some examples are UK council of Child Internet Safety and Child Line. Schools today also train their students in e-safety and “netiquette”. Schools are trying to equip students with critical and vital tools that they need. It will help them to know the complexity that exists in the digital world. These tools will enable students to become aware of risks and benefits of Internet. Some techniques that are useful are blocking the bully behavior online. Technology is also providing panic buttons to cyber victims so that they can use it any time they feel threatened or bullied on the Internet. Blocking is presently preferable online action that cyber victims take for their safety. The below figure shows how the victims felt after cyber bullying:
Image Source: cyberbullying.us
Other studies also suggest that deleting nasty messages, old threats entirely from one's profile entirely is also strategies that prove to be useful for the victims. But these strategies do not reduce or prevent cyber bullying. They free the victim from it. The bullies can easily shift to find newer targets and bully them.. Cyber bullies find their targets easily 24/7 with technology. It becomes easy for them to find and then harass their targets. There is a distinctive nature of cyber bullying. The present need is to find the bullies and provide them with guidance and counseling so that they do not bully more to other people. There is a requirement of tremendous research to examine the effectiveness of various types of technological intervention.
Psychological Role of Adults in Cyber Bullying
Parents play a significant role in psychologically being a support to their children. To begin with, they can adapt to "Prevention is Better than Cure". They can block websites and set up age appropriate limits of using the Internet. Poor parenting results in higher risk to young people and make them prone to cyber bullying. It will become very difficult to deal with cyber bullying once it starts to happen with the child. Communication with teen child is important. Regular communication with one's child will make him comfortable and help him open up to his parents in case of troubles. It will make it obvious for them to speak about his troubles to the people. Adolescents live in a constant fear that if they tell about Internet troubles, they might lose their privileges. It is necessary to tell them it will not happen. They also have a fear that parents might tell them to "ignore" these things. Adolescents need awareness about cyberspace and the ways to use technology and information available on the Internet. In a web survey of 12 to 17 year's children, it suggests that 90 percent of these victims prefer not to tell their parents about cyber bullying and want to “deal with it themselves”. This approach is a very negative and critical approach from the adolescents.
Psychological Role of Peers in Cyber Bullying
Adolescents have a very negative and critical behavior towards support from teachers. A huge percentage of cyber-bullied victims consider that telling about it to teachers and principles an ineffective way. Studies suggest that only 17 percent of the students and in 70 percent of the cases there is no action taken. It is a very disappointing behavior from the schools and colleges. Students hence, find it helpful and supportive to find confidence in peers. Peers play a significant role in giving confidence of the victims of cyber Bullying. Schools must train a group of students with whom the students find easy to talk. Peers have the potential to be mobile and take action against cyberbullying. They can create "bully awareness" in schools. They can come up with leadership programs and practices. Such practices can successfully lead to a reduction in cyber bullying. With understanding among students, the bullying can entirely end. (Riebel, 2009)
Discussion And Conclusion
There are multiple strategies that are useful to combat cyber bullying. There is not sufficient study in this area. Hence, it is challenging to find out what will work for the best in this direction. It is also necessary to understand the social networks and groups. It is necessary to know what role the digital world plays in the emotional lives of adolescents. It will become very difficult to deal with cyber bullying once it starts to happen with the child. Communication with teen child is important. The most alarming fact about cyber bullying is that it can occur anytime to anyone who has access to Internet. Hence, hey are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Earlier methods have a tendency to not to be effective in reducing cyberbullying. Cyber bullying is a criminal activity, and it adds burden to the criminal justice system. There are suggestions that can be implemented to fight with cyber bullying.
The recommendations are as below:
- Working together with peers and understanding young mindsets will help in a greater success in anti-cyber bullying programs.
- Professionals need to aim at the values that they follow to cyberbullying among adolescents.
- There is a need of compassion and empathy for the victims and not simply suggesting "ignore it." Such advice worsens the psychological conditions of the adolescent.
- Engaging with school activities will help in developing positive relationships with adults and peers in an environment where they find care, respect, help and support.
- Socializing and helping the students to socialize will encourage the pro-social attitude and will lead to greater tolerance among the adolescents.
- High trust friendship protects the mental health and makes the mind strong to handle situations like these.
- Schools need to set up systems to intervene and monitor the place so that there is no bullying.
- External controls have their place in monitoring, but one needs to remember that one also has to observe the interpersonal behavior that might lead to bullying.
The above measures will help in understanding the factors that lead to cyber bullying and the measures that can be taken to fight and end it completely. The summary of adolescent cyber bullying is as follows.
Image Source: http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/176530/file-18530962-jpg/images/cyberbullying_infographic_final2.jpg?t=1415997813264
Cyber bullying is also a part of wide concern like all other criminal activities. It needs a solution in the spirit of justice and fairness. It causes a huge damage to self-esteem and lowers the academic achievement. It also disturbs the emotional well-being. For example, the research by Schenk and Fremouw tells that the victims of cyber bullying show higher measures in depression, phobia, anxiety and paranoia. Studies related to cyber victims also show that victims display a higher risk of getting into depression. Cyber bullying is not limited to hurting feelings. It cannot be easily disregarded. The consequences of cyberbullying are permanent and long-term. It scars the psyche of adolescents for life. It is necessary that parents, researchers and practitioners understand the behavioral and emotional consequences of cyber bullying.
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