The rapid development of technology with all the positive aspects it has is serving as a very important and effective tool for the personal and academic development of children. Therefore, children's access to the internet has significantly increased. However, with this increased access, children's exposure to various dangers, such as cyberbullying, is also increasing. Cyberbullying is defined as the repeated and intentional use of electronic means to threaten, disgrace, and humiliate one or more persons. This can happen accidentally because of the nature of online communication as it is difficult to determine the tone of the sender through messaging and jokes can turn into very serious offenses. But, repeatedly delivering insults, harassment and threats is often intentional.
Methods and forms of cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is practiced in all age groups, but as children are more sensitive than adults, they may experience more of this phenomenon. The 2016 study by the Fit Center shows that 30% of children 13-16 years old have responded that they have been a victim of cyberbullying. People use different technologies and methods to cyberbully such as phone calls, phone messages, social networks, emails, digital photos, and so on. According to the study, 61% of children have reportedly been victims of cyberbullying through social networks.
Some of the most common forms of cyberbullying are:
- Posting or sending rumors to victims or other friends;
- Sending threatening emails;
- Adding nicknames or pseudonyms for the purpose of insults by messaging, posting on social networks etc.;
- Posting one's secrets on social networks;
- Posting or sending personal photographs without the permission of the person (usually the photos are intimate or humiliating, etc.).
Lack of social network supervision by parents, teachers, or state authorities enables cyberbullies to contact their victims more easily and frequently.
The consequences of cyberbullying
Victims of cyberbullying suffer the same adverse effects as bullying that occurs in everyday life. however, the effects of this bullying are more intense as messages can become public and can be seen by many users of these social networks. Victims of this type of harassment experience mental and physical problems and problems in their academic performance. They feel higher levels of anxiety and depression, fear, problems with self-esteem, poor physical health, and so on. One of the major problems of cyberbullying is that it increases the risk of suicide, as children who are constantly bullied and humiliated often feel hopeless, lonely and helpless.
There are several steps that can be taken to prevent cyberbullying:
- Do not share your passwords with anyone but your parents;
- Do not make your social network accounts public;
- Do not send intimate/personal photographs to anyone;
- Do not respond to cyberbullies;
- Do not read their messages or communicate with cyberbullies;
- Keep the evidence related to cyberbullying;
- Tell your parents if you become a victim of cyberbullying.