A behavior where one individual or group of people with power scars or threatens another individual with the purpose of harming that individual physically or mentally is called bullying. Bullying was limited to physical actions until we got advancement in cyberspace. Cyber bullying involves the usage of electronic and cyber mediums where individuals use these online means to harm other individuals by taking some kind of informative advantage over the other. It involves the usage of digital technologies of the current era that mostly include social media platforms or other online communities.
Cyber bullying circles around the following scenarios:
- Obtaining sensitive information about the target and threatening the subject with public disclosure
- If no sensitive material is available, circulate fake information about the target and harm its reputation.
Major Differences between Bullying and Cyberbullying
Although physical bullying and cyberbullying are thought to be similar as both harm the target, there are significant differences between the two.
- Physical bullying leaves no traces or is extremely difficult to identify, however cyberbullying leaves a significant internet record, which is sometimes referred to as “Digital Footprint.”
- In most circumstances, the harm caused by physical bullying is limited to the group of people who are involved in the bullying or to a small audience, but cyberbullying has a far larger audience. With the advancement of the digital world, information circulates quickly, and authenticating its veracity takes time. The damage to the target has already been done during the time it takes to validate the information.
Effects of Cyberbullying
As previously stated, cyberbullying causes significantly more harm than traditional bullying. And it’s because there’s such a broad and diverse audience. In such a moment, there are very few people who might support the victim. The victim of cyberbullying may believe that he or she has been assaulted by everyone at that point since the victim has no control over how the news spreads and everyone who has access to the bullying content adds to it. Cyberbullying can damage someone in a variety of ways.
- It has a psychological impact on the victim, who may feel embarrassed or outraged after being tormented.
- Targets may lose interest in everyday activities as a result of cyberbullying’s negative impact on their mental well-being.
- Target feels exhausted. Sleep deprivation causes issues such as headaches and other health issues.
People may be hesitant to talk up or try to solve a situation if they fear being laughed at or harassed by others. Cyberbullying can even lead to people taking their own lives in extreme circumstances.
How to prevent Cyberbullying?
There are multiple steps or best practices that we can follow to prevent cyberbullying from our side:
Do Not Post Unnecessary Data on Internet
As previously stated, cyberbullying begins when people discover sensitive information about their victim. As socialisation has progressed, people have begun to share vast volumes of data on social media platforms. Despite the fact that private messages on these sites appear to be private, they are not. Everything put online, even if erased, is permanently there, according to a popular proverb. We unintentionally share information on the internet that can be used by bad guys for any negative activity, so before posting anything on social media platforms, be sure the action is essential, since if it isn’t, it shouldn’t be made public.
Increase Social Circle Carefully
On various social media platforms such as Instagram, Tik Tok, and others, there is a trend of expanding one’s social circle. Users make money by boosting their presence on these platforms. At the same time, they have become well-known to a vast number of people. When a person is well-known to a big number of people and sensitive information about that person is leaked, addressing the situation becomes more challenging.
Proactive Approach in Preventing Cyberbullying
If you upload or share something on the internet, keep in mind that it could stay there permanently and be used against you later. Personal information, such as email addresses and phone numbers, should never be published online. One should read the privacy notes of social media sites to know how they can use one’s information. Following points help in maintaining privacy:
- Hide posts from certain users on your profile that you may consider irrelevant to the post.
- If you don’t want someone to see your profile and you cannot unfriend them as well, then just hide your content from them entirely.
- There is a privacy setting on social media platforms where you can choose to show the comments to users that belong to them only. This helps in restricting the users to see other users’ data.
- Choose who can comment on your data. It helps in restricting the users from posting negative comments.
- If you see anything that can damage your reputation, immediately report them and ask the respective authority to take action against it.
Reaction to Cyberbullies
Victims of cyberbullying may wish to remove their online existence to recuperate from the damage. But this may not help a lot as one cannot control others by removing oneself from the platform. Bad guys can still share whatever they want and if one tries to hide oneself, it may give them a wrong signal. The best response a person can give is to stand and face them and think of a solution for taking action against them.
If you can’t deal with cyberbullying on your own and don’t know how to respond or take action, you should seek help from a close friend or family member. If friends are unavailable, any adult can be consulted, as the issue requires caution. The main thing to remember is that dealing with a circumstance like this is easier when you have support.
Role of Authorities in Preventing Cyberbullying
Many companies and authorities did not recognize cyberbullying in the past, but as it has become more prevalent, individuals have begun to take action against it. For example, cyberbullying is now considered seriously in most schools, and they will take steps to stop it. If you are being cyberbullied by other students, report it to your school.
Online behavior that intentionally causes substantial emotional distress is considered illegal action in nations that have specific legislation on cyberbullying. Victims of cyberbullying in certain of these nations can seek protection, prohibit communication from a specific person, and temporarily or permanently restrict the use of electronic equipment used by that person for cyberbullying.
On the other side, numerous social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and others, have begun to take severe action against users who engage in such behavior. Every user has the right to report another user if they post something that harms another user’s reputation. They’ve established community guidelines, and if somebody breaks them, these social media platforms will take action against them. Some of these sites, such as Facebook and Instagram, have introduced artificial intelligence-powered algorithms to automatically identify comments and postings that violate these guidelines. These tools will automatically recognize and delete any posts that are potentially harmful.