Teenagers are an extremely sensitive population. They are associated with a variety of issues especially due to the changes in hormones and transition from childhood to adulthood. Bullying is a common practice among teenagers. It entails a form of violent behavior against an individual with an aim of harassing.
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Cyber bullying on the other hand entails the use of information and communication technologies in an attempt to perpetrate deliberate and hostile behavior in a repeatedly manner. It could be done by an individual or group of people with the main aim of causing harm to the victim1.
Cyber bullying has become a very common practice among individuals especially the young generation. Some of the feelings related to cyber bullying include sadness and anxiety; hurt feelings towards others, depression and other mental health problems, inability to trust in other people, low self esteem, lack of confidence and sense of security, frustrations, fear and anger, formation of prejudice for instance based on the race or religion of the cyber bully among others2.
To some extent, cyber bullying may result in other major effects especially when the negative emotions in the victim are not dealt with in an appropriate manner.
Some of the behaviors include, poor academic performance, inability to form healthy social relationships with peers and older people, withdrawal and seclusion from various life issues and developing an attitude to bully others as a form of revenge or to feel in control.
To the extreme, cyber bullying is deemed to cause deaths of teenagers through suicide where they feel they cannot take it any more. This therefore shows that cyber bullying affects an individual emotionally and should always be avoided where possible3.
Research shows that cyber bullying is more detrimental than face to face bullying4. Some of the reasons behind this include the fact that the effect is more permanent. This is so because the insults or comments used in bullying an individual could be preserved by the victim or others and the victim could view them time after time making the issue even more painful5. There is also the issue of audience size.
Through the internet or social networks, the audience that can access the bullying message could be relatively big causing a lot of humiliation to the victim. Speed is also a critical issue. In cyber bullying, harmful materials intended for a certain target could spread very fast and reach many people hence increasing the source of intimidation and humiliation. Familiarity is also a concept that makes cyber bullying incredibly detrimental as compared to face-to-face bullying.
The fact that most teenagers know the individuals who cyber bully them plays a great part in raising the level or degree of humiliation and embarrassment to the target. Social networking has also contributed greatly to the issue of cyber bullying especially in making it more harmful as compared to face-to-face bullying.
Social networking sites for example Facebook facilitate cyber bullying as the cyber bullies are in a position to perpetrate campaigns against an individual with support of other members. In most cases, face-to-face bullying only involves the bully and the target and it is relatively easier to handle and forget as opposed to cyber bullying. This is enough justification that cyber bullying is more harmful as compared to traditional bullying.6
Farrell (2004) asserts that cyber bullying has a high likelihood of affecting the victims adversely as compared to the traditional face to face bullying experience. To support this argument, the author suggests that children and teenage victims of online or cyber abuse feel that they have no place to hide their embarrassment especially due to the fact that it involves a lot of people, not only the cyber bully and the victim but also other people who could be in the networks.
There is also no chance of striking back against the cyber bully as it could be in a face to face encounter. This therefore makes the experience more intimidating. Cyber bullying has been experienced by many children of the school going age and the phenomenon seems to be on the rise7.
Various research have revealed that even though face to face bullying have been deemed to have long term damaging effects to the victims, it is also true that cyber bullying could have even more damaging consequences especially due to the presence of a big audience and the inability of the victim to fight back and release the feelings or emotions experienced out of the bullying activity.
This is according to Marilyn Campbell, a researcher at Queensland University of technology. This reinforces the statement that cyber bullying is more detrimental than traditional face to face bullying8.
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There are steps that should be taken once an individual discovers that a child or teenager is suffering from cyber bullying. Having seen all the above negative effects that are associated with cyber bullying, it is advisable that parents or caregivers be keener to recognize any of the behavior in their children9.
Once you suspect or notice some problems, it is recommended that one talks to the child to ensure that they are not badly affected. This could be through assuring them of your concern and support. Open dialogue plays a great role in cyber safety.
In case the offences against the child are serious and deemed harmful; one should make it known to the school authority or local law enforcement agency for further action. Any online evidence should be kept intact to guide in taking informed action upon the cyber bully.
It is also a good act to contact the medium through which cyber bullying is perpetrated. This could include aspects such as mobile phone providers, websites or social networks as they are in a position to either prevent or stop these behaviors. This shows that even though cyber bullying may seem inevitable, there exist some ways through which it could be controlled or avoided. 10
From the above discussion, it is evident that the concept of bullying is a reality that has affected a majority of young people in one way or the other. Cyber bullying seems to be extremely detrimental as compared to traditional or rather face-to-face bullying.
This is so because of the nature of consequences associated with it for instance permanence, audience size, familiarity, popularity of social networking as well as speed through which it is perpetrated among others. It is also clear that emotional effects suffered by an individual as a result of cyber bullying can be very devastating and affect him or her for a long period of time, some for a lifetime. This does not however mean that traditional face to face bullying is not harmful.
Aalsma, M. C. & Brown, J. R., ‘What is bullying?’ Journal of Adolescent Health, 43, 2008, 101–102.
Blair, J., ‘New breed of bullies torment their peers on the Internet’. Education Week, 22, 2003, 6–7.
Camodeca, M. & Goossens, F. A., ‘Aggression, social cognitions, anger and sadness in bullies and victims’. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46, 2005, 185–197.
Crick, N. R. & Grotpeter, J. K., ‘Children’s treatment by peers: Victims of relational and overt aggression’. Development and Psychopathology, 8, 1996, 367–380.
Farrell, N., Cyber Bullying Worse Than the Real Thing. Web.
Fauman, M. A., ‘Cyber-bullying: Bullying in the digital age’. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 165, 2008, 780–781.
Johnson, J. M., ‘The impact of cyber bullying: A new type of relational aggression.’ Paper based on a program presented at the American Counseling Association Annual Conference and Exposition, Charlotte, NC, 2009.
Mishna, F., ‘A qualitative study of bullying from multiple perspectives’. Child Schools, 26, 2004, 234–247.
Pure Sight, The dangers of cyber bullying, 2010. Web.
Safety web, Stop Cyber bullying – Guide for Parents 2010. Web.
1 M. C. Aalsma, & J. R. Brown, ‘What is bullying?’ Journal of Adolescent Health, 43, 2008, 101–102.
2 M. Camodeca & F. A. Goossens, ‘Aggression, social cognitions, anger and sadness in bullies and victims’. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46, 2005, 185–197.
3 M. A. Fauman, ‘Cyber-bullying: Bullying in the digital age’. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 165, 2008, 780–781.
4 F. Mishna, ‘A qualitative study of bullying from multiple perspectives’. Child Schools, 26, 2004, 234–247.
5 J. M. Johnson, The impact of cyber bullying: A new type of relational aggression. Paper based on a program presented at the American Counseling Association Annual Conference and Exposition, Charlotte, N. C., 2009.
6 Pure Sight. The dangers of cyber bullying, 2010.
7 J. Blair. ‘New breed of bullies torment their peers on the Internet’. Education Week, 22, 2003, 6–7.
8 N. Farrell. Cyber bullying worse than the real thing. The Inquirer. 2004.
9 N. R Crick, & J. K. Grotpeter, ‘Children’s treatment by peers: Victims of relational and overt aggression’. Development and Psychopathology, 8, 1996, 367–380.
10 Safety web. Stop Cyber bullying – Guide for Parents 2010.