Cyberbullying could lead to depression and quite a few other conditions, and therefore its effects should never be underestimated because its victims are real.
The Internet is the land of all possibilities. When you go online it doesn’t matter how you are in real life anymore, because it is a chance for you to change your all those features you are not happy with and develop an new powerful persona that simply shares your best traits.
If you know how to spin things your way, it doesn’t matter if you’re a little bit too fat, a little bit too short, or just a little bit too timid, because there is always a a way to make people forget all of these things about you and focus on what you want to show them, because you control the information you put out.
Unfortunately, most people who are rotten in real life however, develop rotten online personas as well. But is is even worse when people who do not have the courage to behave a certain way in real life take advantage of the conditions that the internet offers and unleash their inner bully, in order to make themselves look more empowered.
Regardless of their stories, there are more and more cyberbullies out there who are ruining the social media experience for everybody, but especially for some people who suffer greatly because of their horrible conduct.
A study conducted by the University of Alberta on American teenagers with ages between 12 and 18 has revealed that as many as one in four teenagers have experienced or are currently undergoing cyberbullying.
The study has also found that this proportion is different according to the age of the teenagers. And it seems that things are actually getting worse and worse. If 11% of young teen are victims of cyberbullying, then as many as 43% of older teens go though it.
And this actually affects them greatly, because it is not at all uncommon that cyberbullying is continued in real life by face to face bullying. Furthermore, since the internet is basically a limitless space, there are so many methods out there to virtually torture a person.
And so, the teenagers use social media to leave as many cruel malevolent posts, comments or instant messages as they want on their victims. It is actually still pretty easy to create fake social media pages with stolen photos of the victim and subject them to public shaming. The possibilities are endless and if the bully is also good with computers, there is almost no stopping him.
Like a virus, a cyberbully can “infect” anything from smartphones to laptops and tablets and torment its victim in the virtual world. Ironically, all the victim needs to to is shut down all of these devices and the bully loses all of his powers, at least for a while.
There is a very fine line between these cyber-issues appearing worthless and extremely gripping. While it is true that the teenager only needs to shut down his internet-based devices to escape the bullying, normal social conduct now basically prevents this, as the internet, along with social media, have now become intertwined in our day to day lives.
The Alberta University study mentions that as many as 93% of teenagers were using the internet and that 86% were using social media on a regular basis, according to a report from 2012. These numbers have most likely grown considerably since then, and the firm grasp that the internet has on all of us, but especially on teenagers is undeniable.
Moreover, adults might be tempted to say that there is no real danger that can come from something that is basically not real, because it happens online and not in real life. This is one of the most common mistakes, because virtual aggression is as real as real could be and its effects are extremely tangible.
Actually, because cyberbullying leaves space for the victim’s imagination to kick in, it can actually reach much higher proportions than real life bullying.Therefore, denying its existence and effects is a grave mistake that unfortunately most parents do. And so, the teenagers find themselves alone in this battle against cyberbullying.
The study reveals that there is a strong link between cyberbullying and depression, but there is no data for the moment that can connect it to anxiety and suicidal conduct. However, when cyberbullying is not the only type of harassment that the teenager is exposed to, the situation could easily shift to a much more complicated one extremely fast.
While the study does not discuss possible solutions for cyberbullying, it seems wisest to employ all of those valuable lessons that we have learned from children’s stories and maybe the Freddy Kruger films. Anything from the virtual world is only as powerful as we allow it to be and taking a step back and analyzing the situation might reveal the fact that we do have options to keep ourselves safe.
Furthermore, there is strength in numbers. Since most of the time a cyberbully does not have only one victim, it would be helpful for a victim to connect with the others, so that together they may take a stand against him.
The important fact is that there are options out there, especially in the virtual world, where not only bullies can be big and strong. The first step is to realize that there are means of fighting back.
Image Source: telegraph.co.uk