Subtle but destructive, words resonating in hopes that they’ll agitate. Are you going to cry? Did you really think you could pull this off? Who do you think you are? Sentences that we’ve all heard, a behavior that we’ve all been subject to. Just keep your head down and move on! Try not to stir them up! Ignore it, and it’ll stop on its own.
Cyberbullying has become a behavioral pandemic and has long gone untended! It has extended its harmful influence from our physical world into the digital environment represented by the internet and social media platforms. This article sheds light on the sensitive topic of cyberbullying vs. bullying.
What Is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying, like bullying, is a form of toxic behavior that aims to belittle, shame, and enforce dominance over other individuals. It takes place over digital devices like cell phones and computers using social media platforms and text messages.
Despite the motives, cyberbullying has several ways, and the following are the most popular:
- Spreading rumors or wrongful information about someone online
- Posting personal information or embarrassing photos or videos on social media
- Sending abusive comments or threatening messages via direct messages
- Stealing accounts and posting on their behalf, threatening or sending mean messages
How is Cyberbullying Different from Traditional Bullying?
No one can argue that bullying in all forms isn’t harmful. However, when talking about cyberbullying vs. bullying, there are slight differences.
Slight, yet significant. Recent studies have shown that even though cyberbullying tends to be less direct and personal, it has a hefty impact on the psyche of the targeted individual. While traditional bullying is deliberate and conscious, cyberbullying is impulsive.
Nowadays, technology has certainly made bullying much easier, especially since bullies don’t have to face their victims; moreover, they don’t even have to know them. Planning is no longer an issue, and more waiting down the hall or at the schoolyard. Unfortunately, all it takes is a button click or a screen touch; anyone can type the harshest words. While acts of bullying are strategic and planned out, cyberbullying is more hasty and abrupt.
Traditional Bullying Is Predictable
Although that’s not how things should be, in traditional bullying, everyone knows what turns not to take and whose eye not to look into! Cyberbullying has changed the ball game, and bullies now have a new virtual world to map through. Nit-picking through images and surfing accounts, bullies can now make their victims feel unsafe behind a screen at any given time. Sadly, it is hard to anticipate their moves.
Moreover, cyberbullying is not limited to a specific location, making it difficult for victims to escape the situation. Cyberbullying has become rampant on social media platforms, and its wide reach allows bullies to target their victims 24/7, causing a constant barrage of negativity and stress. It can lead to a decline in mental health and well-being and long-lasting effects on the victim’s self-esteem and confidence.
Traditional Bullying Relies On Psychical Strength
P, C, A: three letters that are classic signs of traditional bullying
We all know about beauty privilege and the advantages of having physical strength. It is easy to feel intimidated and powerless in the face of a jog. However, the internet and social media have unfortunately made it possible for bullies to assert power over victims by holding embarrassing photos or secrets that targeted individuals may not want to post publicly.
Cyberbullying Can Be Anonymous
Fake accounts and barred dials. Visible are the insults, but anonymous is the slanderer. In the context of cyberbullying vs bullying, cyberbullying has made it harder to identify the abuser. It has also made it harder for abusers to feel remorse since they cannot view the consequences of their actions.
Tips on How to Protect Yourself from Cyberbullying
- Check your privacy settings: make sure you check the privacy settings on all social media accounts and use a two-step verification method. Do not accept friend requests unless you are sure of who they are.
- Do not engage: responding to comments and negative feedback only invites further insults and attacks. Remember to be the bigger person and that responding makes you stoop to their level.
- Block and report: it’s important to feel safe to reach out; try talking about it to a trusted friend, perhaps an older sibling, or a parent. Talking about the incident will help you understand your feelings and handle the issue correctly. It’s also very important to report on social media platforms to prevent this from happening to others.
- Support cyberbullying victims: Support others experiencing cyberbullying and encourage them to speak up and seek help. Advocate for kindness and respect online.
- Screenshot all evidence: Even though holding on to unwanted photos or threatening messages may trigger negative feelings. It helps build your case and uncover details about the offender.
- Self-confidence is key: never let the words of others define you, and always remember that actions speak for themselves and that what others do is not a reflection on you.
- Use positive self-talk: Challenge negative online messages and comments and reframe them positively. Repeat positive affirmations to yourself to boost your self-esteem and counteract the effects of cyberbullying.
- Create a digital detox plan: Take regular breaks from social media and other technology to reduce stress and increase well-being. Use this time to connect with close friends and family or engage in activities that bring you joy.
Cyberbullying may seem like an unstoppable force, but it’s essential to remember that you have the power to stand up against it. By taking control and shifting the balance of power, you can protect yourself and others from the negative effects of cyberbullying.
Surround yourself with positive, supportive people, and educate yourself about the dangers of cyberbullying. By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to handle any negative experiences and regain control of your digital life.
Remember that you are not alone in this struggle. Resources and support systems are available to help you, and reaching out for help is a sign of strength. Don’t let cyberbullying take over your life. Instead, use your voice, confidence, and knowledge to advocate for change and create a safer online community.
Emily Andrews is the communications manager consulting various privacy and security related organizations by day and community volunteer at night. Compassion and defending the defenseless are key human traits Emily believes in. Emily joined InfoCollective in 2021 to help generate the awareness and solve issues on national scale.