Cyber bullying: Characteristics, Causes and Consequences

The CIBER bullying (CB) or cyber bullying is an aggressive, intentional act carried out repeatedly, by using electronic forms of contact from a group or an individual against a victim who cannot easily defend themselves.

Thus, cyber bullying is that repetitive act of harassing, assaulting and damaging another person through telemetric means: internet, mobile telephony, etc.

Cyber bullying

In recent years there has been a breakthrough in technology and digital media, and we are increasingly using the internet for a wider range of activities, especially those related to communication.

Social networks like Face book, Twitter, Integra, messaging applications like Whatsapp, Skype, Live, electronic messaging services like Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo…

All of them allow us to communicate easily and quickly, but at the same time they enter us all in a virtual world.

This virtual world becomes especially important when children and adolescents use it, as they access a direct and autonomous (often without their parents’ surveillance) access to a world difficult to control.

And this is where CB appears, when children and adolescents use these platforms to harass attack or psychologically attack other children with an apparent freedom and little control.

Having said that, it should be noted that when we talk about CB we are referring to that abuse that takes place between equals.

That is: CIBER bullying is the act that makes a child or adolescent of harassing another child or adolescent of the same age (or similar).

Therefore, all those situations in which there are no children at both ends of the harassment are excluded from this term.

Is cyber bullying the same as bullying?

Although the origin of CB and school bullying (traditional bullying) can be the same and both types of harassment bear many similarities, they are not exactly the same.

Obviously, CB can represent a form of bullying at the moment a minor (or more than one) begins to carry out actions of harassment and aggression to a classmate through the internet.

However, cyber bullying is not always done by a school partner. As we have said, access to the virtual world in a more or less autonomous way, exposes the child to a greater number of people than in the real world.

This makes it possible for you to begin receiving CB from any child, regardless of whether you know him or not.

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In addition, certain differences between CB and traditional bullying have been connoted:

  1. Cyber bullying can be done by any child, without the need to be a schoolmate.
  2. Unlike traditional Bullying, when harassment is carried out by a group of minors, in the CB there is usually no overt leadership of any of the components.
  3. Traditional bullying predominates in the harassment of children, in the CB in gender is distributed more evenly.
  4. Cyber bullying can be done by unsociable children with few friends, contrary to the traditional Bullying that are carried out by
    Children with high popularity among their peer group.
  5. In the CB the anonymity of the abuser is very simple.
  6. The victims of CB are usually girls, in traditional Bullying predominate children.

However, it is estimated that the consequences of cyber bullying and traditional bullying are very similar.

How manifests cyber bullying?

Cyber bullying can be manifested in any way, since the telemetric means offer a great variety of forms of expression.

In fact, the manifestation of CB is reserved to the imagination that can be applied by the harasser within the technological world.

However, there are a number of CB actions that occur more frequently than others.

In order to better identify possible cases of cyber bullying and to delimit a little better this phenomenon that can often be ambiguous, then I will comment on the 10 most common manifestations of CB.

  1. Publish and share with public Internet profiles content that may harm, embarrass or humiliate the person. The content can be real or formatted images, personal data, opinions, expressions, etc.
  2. Impersonate the victim in websites or social networks, creating a false profile with the name and photographs of the person. Profiles are usually edited with negative or humiliating content to, as in the previous case, embarrass or outrage the victim.
  3. Use profiles like the one described above to add it to websites for mockery or ridicule. A typical example is usually to register high profiles of the victim in webs where they try to vote the most ugly, silly, dickey person, etc. Subsequently, the profile is disseminated so that as many people as possible can see it.
  4. Use the false profiles of the victim to write in first person as confessions about certain events, always with a humiliating speech. The themes are usually sexual, personal, satirical anecdotes, etc.
  5. To pass through the victim in forums or chats, expressing them in an aggressive or provocative way, with the aim of creating conflicts with people so that they later recriminate their behavior to the victim (not the stalker who does not show his identity).
  6. “Hacking” the access keys of the email or accounts in the social networks of the victim to read their messages, violate their privacy, create conflicts with their contacts and change the password so that the victim cannot re-access in their own accounts.
  7. To provoke the victim in the web services that he uses and that contain moderator (chats, forums, online games), to obtain that it responds in a violent way, and later to denounce its reaction so that it is excluded or expelled.
  8. Register the victim’s e-mail address on unpleasant or unwelcome websites to receive “spam” in your mail.
  9. Circulate rumors about the victim’s reprehensible behaviors or actions on the web so that his or her social circle can read, believe and engage in their own forms of retaliation or harassment. In this way, the stalker makes other people outside Cyber bullying also reproach or harasses the victim.
  10. Speak to the victim directly through chats or instant-messaging applications like Whatsapp, sending you threatening, repetitive and frequent messages, with the aim of annoying or intimidating you.

Cyber bullying Statistics

Cyber bullying is a phenomenon that is increasing, and since the emergence of new technologies is increasingly found more cases.

In fact, the high prevalence of this problem has recently led to numerous studies.

However, the results obtained in each study are very different, and today an exact figure cannot yet be provided.

In what does seem to be agreement is:

  • The percentage of students affected by CB is very high, either moderately (less than once a week) or severe (more than once a week).
  • In the United States and Asia, the highest prevalence’s are recorded (55%), Europe and Canada (25%), South America (22%).
  • In general, between 40 and 55% of students are involved in some way in cyber bullying (victims, aggressors or observers).
  • Between 20% and 50% say they have been victims of CB, although only 2% to 7% of them are severe.
  • The more use is made of ICT, the greater the risk of being both aggressor and victim of cyber bullying.
  • The percentages found in the prevalence of CB are increasing, so as we have said, there is an increase in this problem among young people.
  1. Emphasizing this last point, we could find as possible explanations to the increase of the CB prevalence the following aspects:
    Increased availability of new technologies among minors.
  2. Increasing the social importance of the virtual world in the lives of children.
  3. Minor perception of damage caused by the aggressor: When harassing over the internet, the effects of harassment are less visible even to the harasser himself.
  4. Increased number of victims (since the aggressor does not need to know his victim to start the CB) and a greater sense of impunity (since he can remain anonymous after the screen).
  5. Increase social networks, ease of communicating with people, creating groups, contacts, etc. In Internet.

Consequences of Cyber bullying

The CB has negative consequences for all involved (aggressors, victims and observers), although logically, those who are worse off are the victims.

Through different studies, it has been shown that CB causes the same effects as traditional Bullying, and the fact that the aggression is virtual and not directly or physically, does not constitute a protective effect on the victim.

The consequences that have been demonstrated today on cyber bullying are as follows:

  • CB sufferers are more likely to experience depressive and anxiety symptoms, behavioral and social adjustment problems, and drug use.
  • The victims of CB reduce their self- esteem and self-confidence, worsen their academic results, and diminish their social relations.
  • Many CB casualties can turn into stalkers.
  • The CB produces feelings of anger, anger, sadness, frustration and helplessness in the victims.
  • Cyber-aggressors are more likely to be morally disconnected, lack empathy, antisocial personality and behavior, school absenteeism, drug use, and criminal behavior

What should you do if you are younger?

To prevent and manage CB:

  • Be very careful with the data, photographs and personal information that you enter in the network. Try to make this information available to your contacts only.
  • Be very careful with those who expose in chats or public forums, never provide information about you, and do not know who is on the other side of the screen.
  • Do not respond to Internet provocations, especially if you do not know the provocateur.
  • When you are harassed it is preferable that you keep tests of the CB (messages, photographs, etc.), turn off the computer or mobile and consult an adult.

What should adults do?

To solve a problem of CB is important:

  1. It transmits confidence to the child so if you have a problem like this do not hesitate to go to you, if you try to solve it on your own the thing can be complicated.
  2. When you are informed respond calmly and calmly, support the child and tell him that you will help him to solve it.
  3. Inquire about the problem in question, and pay attention to its seriousness. If the perpetrator has personal data such as domicile or school and the violence of harassment is high, it will not hurt to go to the police.
  4. If the CB is less serious help your child to eliminate their internet accounts and erase all their data in the network so that the aggressor cannot reconnect with him.

If the cyber-aggressor is a companion of the victim, go to adults in your area to help you solve it (teachers of the center, parents or relatives of the aggressor, etc.).