What is Cyberbullying? Let’s get back to basics. Bullying is the oldest form of peer aggression. We all remember that one boy or girl that made you dread going to school. They may have tripped you as you walked, taken away your lunch or lunch money, pulled your shorts down or skirt up, whispered something nasty to other classmates and you heard giggles or just excluded you from joining games on the playground.
As schools and learning institutions continue to battle with “traditional” bullying, the increased access to technology has brought up a new menace – Cyberbullying. According to Wikipedia, Cyberbullying is defined as “The act of harming or harassing via information technology network in a repeated deliberate manner”.
The increase in Cybercrime has exposed children to risks like pornography, kidnap and fraud. In most cases adults are the aggressors and children the victims; but children are increasingly becoming aggressors as well. The power of anonymity can give a child the boldness to be a cyberbully. A child who is normally quiet can hide behind a fake online identity and be a bully. Our children have found new exciting ways to connect and make friendships using technology but just the same way a spiteful word at the school cafeteria hurts, a simple click on the keypad can upset a child’s feelings.
Emotional scars acquired in childhood can simmer and eventually manifest in adulthood as poor social habits and weak coping mechanisms. Hurtful information posted on the internet is difficult to remove because the internet never forgets.
It is important that parents, teachers and caregivers understand cyberbullying through a comparative analysis of traditional bullying and cyberbullying so as to help children and young adults to use technology responsibly.
|Face to face contact makes it limited.||The virtual internet space is always open so it can happen 24 hours a day/365 days a year.|
|Victim can find a safe space to hide like run away from the playground.||There is no safe space – It is hard to escape.|
|Limited to onlookers like a classroom.||Shared by a wide audience. An internet posting can go viral in minutes.|
|A bully can be identified.||Fake/ Pseudo accounts give bullies anonymity and so it is not easy to identify them.|
Responsible internet behaviour starts with us. Are there adults who are cyber bullies? Use the hashtag #FindDancingMan to read more on the recent global occurrence on cyber bullying in February 2016.
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