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Cyberbullying is the conveyance of injurious texts or images through the use of internet or digital gargets. It is being unfriendly to others through technologically sending harmful materials to a group or specific individuals (Teen Advice, 2010). Cyberbullying also takes place in social sites like facebook, Myspace amongst others. Cyberbullying is said to be more harmful than the one where the bully engages face-to-face with his or her victim. Homes nowadays do not protect students from bullies, they may escape physical bullying from school or any other place, but at home they are likely to meet text messages in their phones or emails that are scaring and insulting (Teen Advice, 2010).
The bully act may include Stealing and changing someone’s password; an individual may steal someone’s password so that the owner of an online account may not be able to access his or her own account. In this way, the bully may feel good when the victim cannot access important information that might have been sent to his or her account. Another example of such an act is sending a virus message to the victim. The virus may be intended to harm the computer of the unsuspecting intended recipient, or the bully may just decide to be sending funny messages to the recipient but not let the recipient know his or her own identity. In this case, the bully may not have the intention of bullying but just to let the recipient struggle with figuring out the source of the messages (Teen Advice, 2010).
Ways through which Cyberbullying Take Place
In most cases the cyberbullies have sufficient information about their victims. The victims could be schoolmates, classmates or neighborhood peers with whom they play frequently. For them to succeed in bullying, they must be sure their victims will get the messages or information they want to convey, this is according to Breguet (2007). The ways through which cyberbullying takes place are:
Instantaneous messaging: is the act of transmission of message through electronic means using computer hardware integrated with appropriate software that instantly display sent messages on the computer screen of the intended recipient. The bully simply sends the messages to their victims then the messages either pops up on the victim’s computer screen or mobile phone. Instantaneous messages are always read almost immediately by the intended recipient.
Content or digital imaging communications: this is where protocols and appropriate formats are specified for exchange of images and other information. These protocols are known by the bullies and hence make their work easier and accurate.
Web sites and blogs: websites include the social sites where the bullies and their victim also meet. In most cases, both the victim and the bully are members of the same social sites. The cyberbully may post insulting or threatening messages on the website wall of the victim or just send a message into their inboxes. Blogs are also used the same way as websites; the bullies may spread rumors about the victims using frequently visited blogs or put obscene comments on the victims’ blogsite.
Chat room: this is a website where more than one individual can exchange communication in real time. A group of individuals may decide to use a chat room to discuss matters of their interest. In this process the bullies may impersonate other people or simply hide their identities and then start bullying the participants logged into the chat room. In fact, in this case the bullies can intimidate as many victims as they may wish.
E-mails: emails are electronic messages sent to an intended recipient. Emails are always private and confidential; meaning that only the recipient can read, unless otherwise the recipient shares his or her email password with another person. Bullies also send personal emails to their victims. Most of the messages send through emails are threatening and meant to scare the victims. The messages may include death threats or harm threats.
Types of Cyberbullying
Harassment is one of the types of cyberbullying; it is continuously conveying disgusting, affronting, and vulgar messages. The effect of this kind of bullying is ensured by constant conveyance of the same messages until the victim feels harassed. The bully may send ridiculing messages like “You are fat” or “You are stupid and slow learner” to the victims. The bullies become excited once they confirm their victims are harassed in some way. Another type of cyberbullying is denigration in which the bullies undertake to damage their victims’ reputation by use of rumors and hate messages using the internet. This may involve posting in the internet messages meant to portray somebody as worthless of respect (Atlantic City School, 2010). The danger with this type of cyberbullying is that the victim may not find it easy to repair the damage already done to his or her reputation. Flaming is also a type of cyberbullying where both the bully and the victim interact in a hostile manner. It happens mostly in the context of chat rooms, through email exchanges or the bully may just decide to send intimidating and vulgar words to the victim. In cyber stalking, the bully uses the internet to send threatening and intimidating information. It is simply a way of making people be stressed and fearful. The bully is always interested in ensuring that his or her victim is always in some form of constant fear (Atlantic City School, 2010). Outing and trickery is also a type of cyberbullying in which the bullies make public the secrets of their victims. A bully may trick the victims into giving his or her information which the bully later uses to embarrass the victims themselves.
Classes of Cyberbullying and Reasons Students Engage In It
There are a number of classes or categories of cyberbullying. These include:
- Vengeful: cyberbullying someone because the bully had one time been subjected to the same, e.g. following the notion that every grade one student must be bullied. So grade ones wait until they are in grade two to cyberbully grade ones, too.
- Power hungry: they want to show that they have more powers than their victims. They are always focused on hurting someone; they expect response.
- Inadvertent cyber bullying: this is engaging in cyberbullying without the intention of doing so. One may give a reason like the availability of internet and time to engage in cyberbullying.
- “relational aggression”: behaviors that advertently harm the ego of others, self esteem and social standings. Most associated with girls aged between 11 and 12 years old (Berry, 2010).
There are many reasons students may decide to become bullies. First reason is to seek revenge; some individuals may engage in cyberbullying because they have undergone it or are also being cyberbullied. Such students feel better when others also undergo what they are either going through or have already experienced. Second, individuals may also choose to be cyberbullies because anonymity is easy. The fear of being known and also likelihood of not being caught will drive somebody to prefer cyberlluying to face-to-face. This means that one may already be a bully, but fear of being caught may motivate him or her to use the internet to bully victims. Third, some bullies are either younger or physically weaker than their victims. In this case such a bully will opt for cyberbullying to avoid physical reaction by the victims. In fact, with hidden identities younger and weaker bullies are able to bully even those who are several years older than them. This may even become enjoyable to the bullies themselves. Expression of power is the fourth reason individuals may engage in cyberbullying. Some students may feel powerful when they intimidate their fellows through online bullying. Fifth reason is that one may do cyberbullying to conform to the group in which he or she belongs to. Students may form a group whose main mission is to intimidate others; members of such a group are therefore compelled by the demands of the group to engage in cuberbullying. Lastly, an individual may be compelled to be a cyberbully because of peer influence. It is known that peer influence is a powerful force that drives individuals, both young and old, into doing what other peers are doing (Berry, 2010).
Identification of both Cyber Bullies and Their Victims
In order to identify a student or a child who engages in cyberbullying the following may give a clue:
- They have many online account; some of which are not theirs.
- They may laugh excessively when using the internet.
- Instantly close the computer window to hide what they are doing when somebody walks into their rooms or comes closer to their computers.
- Use the computer repeatedly especially at night or when nobody is around.
- May be upset or angered when they cannot access the computer device or log in.
The victims of cyberbullying may be identified by paying attention to the following signs:
- Reluctance to use the internet or any other electronic media by the victims.
- The victim looks nervous when opening an email or electronic messages.
- The victim has unusual mood swing.
- Having difficulties while sleeping
- The victim has a strange behavior
- Display of abnormal anger, feeling of depression and sadness by the victim
- Not feeling like being involved in school or family activities.
- May avoid discussions related to what they do online.
- Always think and discuss about revenge
- Feeling of stomach upset and headaches.
- May become anti-social and introverted.
- Show decline in academic performance and lack of interest in class activities.
Cyberbullying can be very intimidating to the victims. They have far reaching effects that may include making the victims experience a drop in their academic performance, lack interest in participating in both school and home activities. It is important for parents and teachers to be committed in preventing children from engaging in cyberbullying and also protect those experiencing the ordeal of cyberbullying. Those who do cyberbullying are children between the ages of 11 and 12 years (Teach Today, 2010).
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Atlantic City School. (2010). Bullies to Buddies: Four Types of Cyberbullies. Web.
Berry, M. (2010). Text Mining: Applications and Theory. New York: John Wiley and Sons
Breguet, T. (2007). Frequently Asked Questions about Cyberbullying: Teen Life. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group.
Teach Today. (2010). Living with Technology: What are the effects of cyberbullying? Web.
Teen Advice. (2010). Free Teen Advice Newsletter! What is Cyberbullying? Web.