By Shannon Fitzgibbon

What is cyberbullying?

With technology and social media becoming more accessible than ever in modern society, anyone can be a victim of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying, as defined by PACER National Bullying Prevention Center, is “the use of technology to repeatedly and intentionally harass, hurt, embarrass, humiliate, or intimidate another person.” This can include text messages, posts on social media, the spreading of pictures, or other forms of bullying over technology. Cyberbullying has become a recent phenomenon, as it is increasingly easy for a bully to hide behind their screen of choice and promote hurtful ideas about another person.

How does cyberbullying affect people?

There are many side effects to experiencing constant harassment or bullying online. According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children, these effects can include increased anxiety or depression, feelings of worthlessness, trouble sleeping, and in severe cases suicidal ideation. These symptoms can be short-term or even long-term, with long-term effects also including consistent alcohol or drug abuse. For the bully themselves, they also are more likely to suffer from declining mental health or even have issues maintaining healthy relationships into their adulthood. It is important to note that if you are currently experiencing cyberbullying that there are methods and ways to both hold the bully accountable for their actions as well as prevent them from reaching you.

What can I do to prevent cyberbullying?

In the event that you or anyone you know is being cyberbullied, there are ways to both cope with and stop the bullying from continuing. First and foremost, tell a trusted adult what is happening. Researchers at Teens Health state that “bullying can get worse, so speak up until you find someone to help”. This can ensure you have consistent support as you continue to take the necessary steps to prevent further bullying. Next, it is imperative to not respond or reply to the bullying, further antagonizing the bully and motivating them to continue the bullying. Report the post made and block the accounts involved in the bullying. Lastly, walk away from the technological device until the matter has come to a resolution. These steps, in turn, can disable a bully from being able to continue the harassment, and can even get their account removed before they can get a new target.

For further analysis on bullying and harassment in the digital world, read Are You A Bystander in the Digital Age?

Discussion Questions

  1. Who is one trusted adult I know I can rely on if I am being cyberbullied?
  2. What are some of the positives to the use of the internet and social media?
  3. What are some of the negatives to the use of the internet and social media?
  4. Why is it important to ensure that I separate myself from cyberbullying by not using my technological device?
  5. What can I do if the bullying persists off-line?


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