The paper offers a valuable discussion of cyber bullying, including a precise definition and factors leading to an increase in the number of victims affected by cyber bullying. It further provides information about various methods of cyber bullying through which bullies pelt their victims. The paper lists revenge, lack of awareness of harm, perception of cyber bullying as fun and boredom as possible reasons that motivate bullies to inflict pain in victims. It presents statistical numbers of cyber bullying cases and describes the consequences faced by victims. The paper asserts the role of parents in minimizing cyber bullying and offers recommendations that could help individuals save themselves from being victims to cyber bullying. These include privacy settings on social network websites and anti-virus software, which prevent bullies from troubling victims. Finally, the paper provides a brief conclusion of the discussion and asserts the role of technology in preventing cyber bullying.
A vast number of children and adolescents are computer literates and own cell phones, iPads and tablets, which offer them unlimited access to information and the potential to keep in touch with the globe. However, there is a darker side to the new digital world known as cyber bullying, which refers to the misuse of the technology to threaten, humiliate, harass or embarrass the victims . With the growth of access to digital communication, methods of cyber bullying have become sophisticated from nuisance calls to fraud websites. It is possible to target the victims of cyber bullies with minimal effect and cost leading to a widespread concern about the young people in the social networking world. Cyber bullying is as frightening as physical bullying as it leaves emotional scars rather than physical scars. It is a universal issue of concern spreading across cultures and countries world-wide.
Since cyber bullying enables the bullies to keep a distance between the victims and themselves, it affords them a sense of anonymity and security that they would not get caught by the victim. Various methods of cyber bullying are text messages, pictures or video clips through mobile phones, emails, chat rooms, social networking websites and many others . While threatening messages are offensive, the use of pay as you go handsets makes it difficult to trace the bullies. On the other hand, offensive images and video clips captured through the mobile phones are the publicized form of cyber bullying, which threatens or embarrasses the victims. Bullies often pelt their victims through persistent phone calls, which cause humiliation. Furthermore, the ease of setting up multiple email accounts encourages sending threatening bullying emails with no fear or expectation of getting caught. Social networking sites are an exception to anonymity of cyber bullying as it is possible to view the names of those who comment at the victims.
Most of the cases involving cyber bullying do not involve just the bully and the victim but rather groups of individuals of the same age who actively take part in the aggressive actions playing diverse roles. There are various reasons for the acts of the cyber bullies. Most of the bullies have a desire for revenge, lack of awareness of the harm caused through their acts, perception of cyber bullying as an activity of fun, boredom and pleasure of inflicting pain . Some others view cyber bullying as a means of asserting power or challenging aggressive energy. They obtain satisfaction by humiliating the victims. One of the major problems and growing concerns among the teenagers is that they share sensitive and personal information to the bullies assuming them to be their friends. Cyber bullying involves a greater degree of technical expertise in performing sophisticated attacks, which include masquerading.
According to a recent survey, 58 percent of individuals have reported that the acts of cyber bullying happened to them more than once. On the other hand, over 58 percent individuals have never told their parents or guardians about the acts of cyber bullying, in which they were the victims . Furthermore, 53 percent children admitted that they have bullied their peers through verbal abuse. The annoying thing is that over 35 percent of the children stated that they have received threats online for more than once. 21 percent of the children also reported that they have received mean emails, which hurt their emotions. Although cyber bullying is upsetting, it is not possible to walk away from the bullies by ignoring them as there are several ways through which the bullies can reach the victim. It is not acceptable to hide the incidents of cyber bullying from friends and family as they are only a few click away and are the best persons to help the victims get rid of bullying.
Most of the victims report insecurity and loneliness due to which they exhibit poor relationships with others. Some acts of cyber bullying lead to permanent sociological and psychological damage to the victims. They also report other problems, such as depression, anxiety and lower self-esteem . Other issues faced by the victims of cyber bullying include poor self-confidence, difficulty in social interactions and poor emotional adjustments. Some victims also demonstrate aggressive behavior, which leads to ignorance by others. The involvement of the parents in the activities of their children helps to keep a check on cyber bullying. Furthermore, a supportive social network of peers also protects the youth from becoming victims of cyber bullying. Instead of losing confidence, the victims should deal confidently with the situation by talking to their parents and counselors who might offer the best advice.
Cyber bullying has a significant gender difference as males tend to face less anger and frustration when compared to their female counterparts in reacting to cyber bullying as the damage caused to them is minimal when compared to the females. Another important consequence of cyber bullying is sociological concern as it generally takes the form of verbal and visual content. Media violence exposure is a risk factor for cyber bullying as it leads to desensitization in terms of real-life victimization, increasing the likelihood of aggressive behavior . Moreover, youth belonging to single-parent families are at a greater risk of demonstrating acts of cyber bullying. On the other hand, positive school environment and friendly social support negatively relate to cyber bullying as individuals do not develop any kind of maladaptive behaviors in such cases. Gender and differences in the family structure also influence the acts of cyber bullying.
It is difficult to monitor the acts of cyber bullying as it ponders various questions about privacy, free expression and safety in the cyber space. Cyber bullying leads to suicides or drop outs of the victims from the schools. There is a need to call for legislation in order to criminalize the acts of cyber bullying. Zero-tolerance approach helps in controlling cyber bullying expulsions, suspensions and criminal charges . It is important to create awareness about the use of social communications as well as network devices in order to reduce the potential for cyber bullying from an early age. The news media is the best source of information about public outreach on cyber bullying. There are many newspapers, television channels and radio stations, which offer websites for feedback and comments to improve the policy and programmatic challenges of cyber bullying. Legislators, public educators and the judiciary are the primary policy-makers due to their fiduciary position as state agents .
In order to stop cyber bullying individuals should take certain steps and cautionary measures that might prevent them from being the victims. While using social networking websites, it is suggestible to set up a safe profile that allows control over who can post or view the posts. It is also essential to block the bullies on the first encounter of humiliating acts and report to the administrator of the social network in order to take down any acts that are offensive . The popular social networking websites, which include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and many others offer all kinds of security measures to protect the privacy of their users. It is possible to prevent cyber bullying through mobile phones in a variety of ways. First, it is important not to reply to any offensive messages and calls from withheld numbers. If the problem persists, it is better to change the phone number and inform the police about the concern and block the numbers, which create problems.
Using anti-virus software helps to prevent from entering websites that are malicious in nature. Individuals should never reveal passwords as it gives access to the hackers to gain access to the computer and involve in cyber bullying. Changing the passwords from time to time reduces the chances of cyber bullying. Whenever an email arrives from a stranger, it is necessary to think twice before clicking on the links or attachments. Individuals should take care not to interact with strangers as sharing personal information with the strangers would lead to online grooming or offensive acts related to cyber bullying . There are various online communities that offer a great help in building confidence while dealing with cyber bullying. One should think twice before posing or sharing content on the websites as posting anything and everything might increase the chances of cyber bullying.
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