This is an excerpt from Live Well Comprehensive High School Health With Web Resource by Karen E. McConnell,Terri D. Farrar & Charles B. Corbin.
Cyberbullying is similar to traditional bullying in a lot of ways. It shares most of the same influences and consequences. In other ways, it is quite different and can even be worse. Electronic media is not only fast but instant, so rumors, lies, and hurtful posts spread quickly and widely. People are often more aggressive online because they can hide behind the screen and remain anonymous, sometimes making cyberbullying even more aggressive and cruel than traditional bullying. See figure 10.10 for examples of what cyberbullying looks like. Hurtful rumors, sharing another person’s private photos and messages, and other behaviors can spread especially fast among students at school as they check their phones throughout the day and chat in person about the messages.
Sometimes people are trying to be funny and to get attention on social media, and they hurt someone else in the process. If this happens rarely, it is not cyberbullying. True cyberbullying happens repeatedly over time and is intentional. If you hurt someone online by accident, it is important to apologize to the person. Removing a hurtful post and apologizing publicly online shows maturity.
Digital Communication and Cyberbullying
We live in a world of rapid communication that happens mainly in digital forms like texting, social media, and email. How you communicate in a digital environment can have serious consequences for yourself and others now and far into the future. Cyberbullying is a common example of how digital communication can be misused when we don’t exercise good digital citizenship (see figure 10.11). To be a better digital citizen and help prevent cyberbullying you should do the following:
- Learn how to share your emotions and point of view while respecting others.
- Understand how to balance rights to free speech with rights that others have to be free of harassment.
- Understand legal consequences for some forms of digital communication.
Responding to Cyberbullying
Whether cyberbullying occurs at school or elsewhere, you can respond in ways that are similar to responding to traditional bullying. It can be hard to talk to others about cyberbullying, especially if it means sharing an embarrassing photo or post in the process. It is important to tell a trusted adult about what is happening. The sooner you let someone know, the sooner the situation can be addressed. Also remember the following:
- Don’t join in on cyberbullying.
- Pay attention to group chats you join or are added to.
- Avoid adding or supporting mean comments and becoming part of the problem.
- Reach out to the person being cyberbullied and offer support.
- Block anyone who cyberbullies you.
- Do not respond to a cyberbully because it only reinforces the bully and will make them do more.
- Screenshot an image and keep it as proof that you have been cyberbullied by the person. That way if the post is removed from a site, you still have evidence of what happened.
- Consult the social media site you are using for guidelines and policies about how to handle bullying on their site.