What is Cyberbullying? Is Cyberbullying a threat to kids?

by Dev Duff on June 20, 2010

I was chatting in one of the chat rooms at Yahoo, I usually chat there whenever I feel like interacting online. I heard this term Cyberbullying the first time in a chat room when a member started trash talking with other members. Since my knowledge about internet is limited, I’m not aware of such terms. My enthusiasm kicked and started searching information about: What is cyberbullying? How can cyberbullying affect anyone? Is cyberbullying a serious threat for our kids? Answer: There’s a lot more than Yes/No to these questions, read on.

Cyberbullying

To understand the concept of cyberbullying, I searched online and found some interesting facts and figures about how serious cyberbullying can get. I have divided the topic into several different questions. These are the most common questions people ask about this subject. Also, I have included some of my personal experiences about this serious threat which is increasing for your and my kids online. So here are some of the most common questions people ask related to Cyberbullying:

What is cyberbullying?
Where do you find cyberbullying?
Can cyberbullying affect my child?
Is cyberbullying a threat to my kids?
Is cyberbullying a serious crime?
How can I protect my kids from cyberbullying?

“Cyberbullying” is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it is plain and simple cyber-harassment or cyberstalking. Adult cyber-harassment or cyberstalking is NEVER called cyberbullying.

There are perhaps hundreds of questions that hinder our mind when we hear about cyberbullying. To answer these questions, I’ll try to explain the whole concept with examples. But first of all let’s understand what is cyberbullying. The definition of cyberbullying is that when one child targets another child using interactive technologies such as: cell phones, text-messaging devices, interactive games, instant messages, password and ID theft or cyber-bashing websites, the concept is termed as cyberbullying. It can be more long-lasting than schoolyard bullying. It follows them anywhere they use their cell phones or log onto the internet. Cyberbullying can be in the form of a hateful message to your child. Or it can be in the form of a bashing website where other kids can vote for the ugliest, fattest, most unpopular kid. It can also be in the form of a death threat sent anonymously to your child or posted online about your child which can have serious effects on the mentality of your child. As parents, it is our duty to protect our children from all sorts of threats: physical, mental and emotional. Cyberbullying is something really serious that cannot be overlooked.

Now let’s understand where can your kids experience cyberbullying? Generally, your child can experience cyberbullying in chat rooms, be it Yahoo chat, MSN chat, Skype, Chat avenue, AOL chat or any other place, your child can easily become a victim. Your kids can also experience cyberbullying while gaming online, playing interactive games, playing multiplayer online games. At times, your kids can also experience cyberbullying on social networking websites like Facebook, Myspace, Orkut, etc. There are two types of cyberbullying, direct attacks (messages sent to your kids directly) and cyberbullying by proxy (using others to help cyberbully the victim, either with or without the accomplice’s knowledge). Because cyberbullying by proxy often gets adults involved in the harassment, it is much more dangerous.

Moving over to the next question usually asked by parents, how can cyberbullying affect my kids? Cyberbullying can have serious effects on a child’s psychology and growth, it can be just as devastating to a child. If your child is sensitive to such threats, it is very important for you to take the appropriate actions to ensure your child’s safety. Ignorance can only lead to developing abnormal growth of your child and some kids may kickback and turn to anger, emotional sickness, depression, uncontrolled behavior, etc.

But the real question is, how do you recognize that your kid is being targeted for cyberbullying? The best way to know this is by keeping a track of your child’s computer usage activities. You should know what your kids do when they are at the computer. How would you really know what your kids are doing? One good way to know is by using some software on your computer that informs you of what your kid is using the computer for. The campaigns run by Online reputation management company Safety Web are extremely helpful in keeping a track of what kids do when they are at the computer, surfing online and browsing websites.

The next question generally asked is, why teens do cyberbullying? The answer to this question is as clear as mud. Who knows why kids do anything? When it comes to cyberbullying, they are often motivated by anger, revenge or frustration. Sometimes they do it for entertainment or because they are bored and have too much time on their hands and too many tech toys available to them. Many do it for laughs or to get a reaction. Some do it by accident, and either send a message to the wrong recipient or didn’t think before they did something. There could be ‘n’ number of reasons why kids involve in such activities but everything has its price and kids are totally unaware of the outcome of that little prank they pulled on their friends last night. Government is getting tough with Cyberbullying Laws to ensure that kids are not allowed to get away with their bullying.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dee Dee Sorg

Cyberbullying is indeed a problem facing our youth. Thanks for taking the time to help educate others. The tragedies surrounding the numerous reported cases of cyberbullying each year are increasing and we need to help our kids understand how to handle the situation if they feel as if it’s happening to them. At KidPhone Advocate we are working hard to help all parents add to their parenting toolbox – check us out at Kid Phone Advocate

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PB Scott

As my son’s writing and reading skills improve, and he gets more net savvy I am concerned about the problems that can come at him through the Internet.

Thank you for this article, this is an angle I had not thought of yet, and something that should receive some attention. Kids are indeed very sensitive to this type of negative influence.

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BOB

THIS IS COOL KEEP IT UP

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