Cyberbullying occurs when new technologies like the internet or mobile phones are used to bully a person or a group of people. Like other types of bullying it is meant to hurt, humiliate or make the victim feel small. Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying is often more hurtful because there is no way to escape from it because we are always surrounded by communications technology.
Who can I talk to about cyberbullying?
If you or someone you know is being bullied, it is important to talk to someone instead of letting it upset you. You can talk to your parents, teachers, friends and other people around you.
There is also a dedicated website run by young people for young people to help deal with cyber-bullying. Go to www.cybermentors.org.uk/ for help and advice on all forms of cyber bullying.
What is cyberbullying?
Bullying can be being called horrible names or picked on because of things like how you look or act, your family or your race and religion. It can be people telling lies about you or being left out and ignored. It can be people threatening you to make you feel scared, make you give them things or make you do things you do not want to. Cyberbullying is when someone uses the internet, email or Mobile phones to do this.
Cyberbullying can happen by email, on social networking sites, in chatrooms, instant messenger or websites and blog-spaces, as well as by text or Mobile phone. Cyberbullying can happen even when you are at home or on your own when you use the internet or have your Mobile phone switched on. With cyberbullying you might not even know who is doing it, because it is possible to hide your identity online.
Cyberbullying can be:
- If people send or post rude or nasty messages or comments about you by email, instant messenger, blogs or Mobile phone.
- If someone sends lots of junk or rude emails that you do not want.
- If someone uses your password or gets into your email/messenger/blog to look at, steal or change things. They might send nasty emails to other people pretending to be you, or change passwords so you can not get into your account.
- Someone who makes friends with you by pretending to be nice or to be someone else, just to make you tell or show them personal things. All this can be a problem because they might use what they find out to be horrible or to threaten you and make you do things you do not want to.
- Someone setting up a nasty website or blog about you. They might even set up one pretending to be you. These can be used to spread lies or show personal things that are meant to embarrass you. Or they might try to get other people to make fun, ignore or be nasty to whoever the site is about.
Many young people are now forwarding indecent pictures of their ex-girlfriends or ex-boyfriends or ex-friends to other people. This can be really upsetting to those people who are in the pictures. Remember that whatever images you upload online, or send to a friend’s phone can be downloaded and forwarded to other people. This is called ‘sexting’.
How does cyberbullying make people feel?
Cyberbullying can make people feel very bad. Being bullied can make you feel upset, embarrassed, sad or scared. It can even make you feel ill. It can make you feel lonely or not very confident and can affect how you are doing at school. You might start avoiding classes or skipping school to avoid the bullies if they are people you already know. This can make it difficult to concentrate on your school work.
Types of Cyberbullying:
- Abuse: This can happen by email, on instant messenger, chat-room or blog sites, as well as by mobile phone. The victim gets threatening, rude or nasty messages or comments posted to or about them. Sometimes this can be because someone doesn’t like them personally, or can even be a kind of stalking. Other times it might be because of something about the victim like skin-colour, religion or gender. Another way abuse happens is if someone sends you lots of computer viruses, pornography or email and/or spam as a way of trying to spoil your account.
- Invasive acts: This might mean breaking into your email, messenger, profile or other personal webspaces. A cyberbully may find a way of getting your password so they can look at, remove or steal personal information. They might send nasty emails to other people pretending to be you, or change passwords so you can’t get into your account. A cyberbully might also try and make friends with you by pretending to be nice or to be someone else, so that you will tell/show them personal things.
All this can be dangerous because someone might use what they find out to be horrible or to blackmail and threaten you into doing things you don’t really want to.
- Defamatory material: A cyberbully may set up a nasty website or blog about or aimed at a victim. They might even set up one pretending that they are you. These can be used to spread lies and unpleasant rumours, or show personal information and photographs that are meant to embarrass or hurt you. Or they might try to encourage other people to make fun, ignore or be nasty to whoever the site is about.
What can I do?
Remember it is not your fault if you are being bullied. You can always tell somebody about what is happening – like a friend, your teacher or someone from your family. And don’t forget, you can always go to www.cybermentors.org.uk/ for help and advice from people who are your own age.
Remember that cyberbullying is not allowed, and that there is always something you can do about it. If you or someone you know is being bullied, you should always start by telling someone. It is also important to understand that you should not do any of the things listed here to other people as it can be upsetting and hurtful. Cyberbullies can be traced and caught, even though they and their victims might think that they can not.
Here are some tips to help avoid cyberbullying:
- Always be very careful about telling other people personal things (email address and passwords, where you live and go to school, or photographs.)
- Never tell these things to people you do not know.
- In chatrooms, messenger or blogs stick with people you know and avoid strangers.
- Never reply to or get into an argument with a cyberbully
- Always tell someone if you someone is cyberbullying you
- Choose chatrooms/blog-spaces that are safe and have strict rules and are moderated
Remember that the internet is for everyone, and it is not fair for a small group of cyberbullies to spoil it. Most people on the internet have a good, fun and safe time. That is why it is important to learn how to be safe and responsible while you are using it.
For further help and advice go to www.cybermentors.org.uk.