Cyberbullying, what is it and what can you do about it?

Categories: Information

Everyone imagine a place, let it be a safe place, a place you can go no matter what the bullies say or do you can go there and be happy and safe, a place you would call home. Now imagine that your worst fear has come true, every bully you have ever feared is waiting for you to come home and give you a welcome home “pat” (smack) on the back. You have now found the cyberbully playground and there is no escape. talks about what makes cyberbullying different. The biggest factor is it can happen literally anytime and anywhere. Another factor it brings to light is that the messages can be anonymous and spread like wild fire. Cyberbullying, as we now know can happen anytime, needs to be defined, and Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin do just that in their book Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying defining cyberbullying as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” How many of you have computers, tablets, or cell phones you might use at home? These are some of the instruments of which cyberbullies use in order to bully. Cyberbullying is not just limited to social media, instant messages, and cell phones. Cyberbullying can take place in any online activity that has a communication aspect to it. Online games also have cyberbullies in the midst of the fun you might be having.

Cyberbullies use the internet to spread rumors, make threats, impersonate someone, distribute photo shopped images, and of course the flame and troll people. Some of these techniques are fairly easy to comprehend, but others are a bit more complicated, take for example flaming and trolling. Flaming and Trolling are somewhat new terms to people and need to be properly defined. defines them in their article about cyberbullying as “sending or posting hostile messages intended to “inflame” the emotions of others.” Generally the bullies are just looking for a reaction to this form of cyberbullying. One thing you can do about this kind of cyberbullying is ignore the message and block the person, if they think you will be too much effort to get a reaction out of you they will generally leave you alone. Impersonating someone is also relatively new as the internet makes it much easier. Through the use of a fake email address I can make a Facebook profile and say my name is Billy Bob, then go to his actual profile and take some images and use those, go about adding all the people from a group Billy Bob is actually apart of and bam. I can make posts as “Billy Bob” that might be hurtful messages to everyone that reads them, and it seems like Billy is being the bully, but really it’s really just me hiding behind a false name. Billy takes the blame and the world is none the wiser. has an article on cyberbullying that talks about the signs of cyberbullying that the victim might have.

  • Being emotionally upset during or after using the Internet or the phone
  • Being very secretive or protective of one’s digital life
  • Withdrawal from family members, friends, and activities
  • Avoiding school or group gatherings
  • Slipping grades and “acting out” in anger at home
  • Changes in mood, behavior, sleep, or appetite
  • Wanting to stop using the computer or cellphone
  • Being nervous or jumpy when getting an instant message, text, or email
  • Avoiding discussions about computer or cellphone activities
  • Lower self-esteem
  • An increasing in drug and alcohol use

So you know the signs of someone being cyberbullied, so what can you do? had an interesting idea that I think could really help schools in their role of helping with cyberbullies. In their What is the School’s Role in Cyberbullying article, they talk about how some schools have been sued by the parents of cyberbullies for their kids to have freedom of speech outside of school. They mentioned that schools can “add a provision” to the school’s acceptable use policy reserving the right to discipline the student for actions taken off-campus if they are intended to have an effect on a student or they adversely affect the safety and well-being of students while in school,” to allow schools to help in cases of cyberbullying. Some things you can do yourself is to not respond to the rude messages/comments. Generally if the bullies are just trolling, they will look for easier targets. You can also block the bullies. Every social media device has this option, even some phones have a number blocker feature built into them if you need it, and if they still find a way to bully you, you can always make a new account or change your number. If you are being cyberbullied, notify your parents, it is nothing to be ashamed of and they should help you to the best of their abilities. Also, you should go to your school and talk with them about how they deal with cyberbullies, they may be more helpful than you might think.

To sum up cyberbullying, we know that it is the “willful and repeated harm inflicted through use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” The most noticeable effects of cyberbullying is nervousness when getting a message, wanting to stop using the computer, lower self-esteem, avoiding discussions about computer and cellphone use, and being protective of their online life. The bests things for people to do when they are being cyberbullied is to tell a parent, tell their school, block the bully, change username/phone number, or delete your account and make a new one.

By Isaac Wallace

Isaac Wallace is a Junior at Oklahoma State University studying MIS as well as a student worker for DASNR IT.

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