We live in an Internet age. Socializing is extremely easy today. Communicating with people around the world is a matter of just a few mouseclicks. The Internet has facilitated easy access to information across the globe, thus making life easy. However, if you look at this Internet age from a different point of view, you will realize that it has, in fact bred many illegal and unethical practices. While some use the Internet for gaining information, others use it for destruction of sensitive data. While some use the web as a communication platform, others derive pleasure from intruding in the other users' privacy and seek enjoyment from breaching Internet security. Cyberbullying is one such activity that such web users engage in.
An Introduction to Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is the act of threatening, harassing, or humiliating a person through use of the Internet or any other digital interactive media. Targeting a person by means of emails, text messages, or online postings is also referred to as cyberbullying. Teens are often seen falling prey to online bullying practices. Some of them might indulge in practices like sending online or text messages over cell phones with the intention to hurt or embarrass the receiver.
Cyberbullying is not just associated with children and youngsters. It is also observed in adults too, and is referred to as cyberharassment. Cyberbullying practices range from simple activities like continuously bombarding someone with emails to something as grave as sexual abuse by means of the Internet. Passing abusive remarks about someone, making him/her a subject of ridicule in online forums, and spreading gossip or rumors about him/her are also classified as cyberbullying practices.
Cyberbullying is of two types, namely direct or through a proxy. Direct attacks often involve the use of instant messengers and emails to humiliate individuals. Sending vulgar photographs through emails or uploading them on blogs and social networking sites is included in this type of attacks. Sending junk mails or spam and spreading malicious code by means of emails are some other examples of direct cyberbullying. When cyberbullying practices take place without the knowledge of the person being used as a bully, it is said to take place through a proxy. At times, warnings and 'click here' messages can be deceptive. They may be programmed to send the wrong information to Internet service providers, thereby resulting in a legal action against the user clicking on these warnings or messages. In cyberbullying through a proxy, the bullies target benign users by committing Internet crimes in their name.
Some Interesting Facts
- Kids and teenagers indulge in cyberbullying as a result of their frustration and anger. People having too much of empty time, tend to indulge in such unethical practices. This is a classical example of the adage, "Empty mind is a devil's workshop."
- Earlier, bullying could be done in two ways, either through aggressive behavior causing physical harm or through verbal abuse in the form of teasing or ridiculing. However, in the technology age of today, cyberbullying has come up as a relatively recent form of bullying that involves abuse through the Internet and other electronic devices.
- Cyberbullying is done by means of sending text messages written in a lewd language or sending abusive mail messages over the cell phone or the Internet.
- Bullying through web sites allows the web users to write abusive and hurtful messages on the site.
- Conducting Internet polls that are likely to hurt others is also termed as cyberbullying.
- According to some surveys, around 33% youngsters have fallen prey to cyberbullying.
- Surveys have sited chat rooms as the most common platforms for online bullying activities. Instant messaging services and emails are also being used.
- Statistics show that cyberbullying activities can have devastating effects on the individuals affected by them.
- Not all admit to have fallen prey to online bullying. Very few of the offended people accept to have been bullied. Those offended by abusive language or insult over the web, may suffer from depression. They feel deeply hurt and emotionally devastated. Those unable to combat the online abuse even resort to suicide.
As a precaution against cyberbullying, it is important for parents to keep a check on the browsing habits of children. Parents need to educate their children about online bullying and teach them to protect themselves from such unethical practices. It is extremely important for parents to watch out for the changes in the behavior of their children. If children seem to withdraw themselves from society and show an unreasoned negative behavior, there are chances that cyberbullying has victimized them. It is advisable to take immediate action in such cases. It is always better to be safe than sorry.