Cyberbullying is on the rise due to increased use of computers and mobile devices. Kids especially are negatively affected by cyberbullies. Learn how to detect, prevent and report cyberbully attacks.
Cyberbullying is on the rise due to the explosion in online use, both desktop and mobile. It is actually more common over the internet because those doing the bullying gain confidence by not having to physically face their victims and they can hide behind anonymous screen names. Although anyone can experience cyberbullying, it mainly happens to children and teens that have not yet learned to deal with such personality types and are, therefore, more easily intimidated by their attackers.
Cyberbullies harass others in various ways from utilizing degrading messages, videos and pictures to making either social or physical threats. Many people are unaware of the extent of cyberbullying. However, reports show that it is indeed rampant. One report reveals that the majority (40%) of children being bullied admit that they encounter such treatment via instant messaging services while 30 percent blame social networks and 29 percent through online gaming. Another report determined that girls bully others mostly over physical appearance while boys resort to comments that are sexually lewd.
Four Types of Cyberbullies
Cyberbullies have been categorized into four main types: those that are Vengeful, Power-addict, Mean and Opportunists.
Type 1 – Vengeful – This type of bully usually has a friend or cause that they feel they must protect. Anyone who confronts the object of their ‘protection’ justifies their wrath.
Type 2 – Power-addict – This bully fits into the general stereotype. They pick on those who are weaker because the bully enjoys having control over others. They use fear, intimidation and attack to wield this control. Open chats and social media sites are prime stomping grounds for the cyberbully addicted to power because they enjoy audiences beholding their control.
Type 3 – Mean – Some cyberbullies harass victims simply because they want to be mean. This type of bully personality usually conspires with others of their clique and enjoys showing their meanness in order to impress their groupies. Usually, most or all of the clique members will meet each other’s approval by taking turns being ‘mean’. This type of bully personality generally occurs in groups of girls.
Type 4 – Opportunist – This type of cyberbully doesn’t see himself as a bully and doesn’t go out of the way to purposefully harass people. However, if someone starts an argument, tries to strongly voice their opinion, or even makes a joke not approved of by this type, they will grab the opportunity to debase the offender using any means possible.
How to Prevent Cyberbullying
Of course, there are some common sense steps which can be taken in order to prevent being bullied online. The first step is to simply not respond. If bullies get a response, they are more likely to continue their attack. However, if they are ignored, they move on to more exciting victims.
Many online sites provide the option to block hateful and offensive people. This is a great tool for shutting out cyberbullies. If the offender has gained access to emails or other protected areas, changing the password or creating a new account should shake them. You should also gear up your computer with virus protection since challenged cyberbullies often seek revenge by planting malware on their victim’s computer.
Many children will not tell parents of their being bullied online. Therefore, it is prudent to install special software on their computers so you can effectively monitor them. Explain to them it’s your responsibility to protect them and then teach them how to recognize and properly deal with bully encounters.
If a cyberbully persists in their attacks against you or your child, be sure to report them. Allowing bullies to go unpunished only exasperates the problem. Start by reporting them to social media sites if the bullying occurs there. Also, save emails or screenshots of harassing messages and report them to the provider of your internet service. They can send warnings and block such people from harassing you as well as others. If it’s a schoolmate initiating the attacks, report them to school authorities who can take appropriate measures.
Check your state laws that address bullying since they can vary between states. However, most bullying incidents are punishable under law if it can be proven that threats of violence have been made, sexually explicit photos or messages have been used, or compromising photos have been taken without the person’s awareness or permission.