Cyberbullying is a form of online bullying that happens through the use of the Internet, emails, text messages, instant messaging, social media websites, online forums, chat rooms, or other digital technology. People who cyberbully others generally intend to hurt, harass, threaten or embarrass the targeted person. Victims of cyberbullying can be left feeling very angry, hurt, embarrassed and even scared. Some victims of cyberbullying are affected to the point of feeling suicidal.
One of the difficult things for a person being cyberbullying is that it can feel like there is no escape from the bullying. For example, before cyberbullying, a person may have only been bullied in school, but home felt like a safe escape. But with bullying messages or pictures being sent through various forms of technology, it can feel like you can’t get away from it – like the bullying follows you wherever you go.
Another aspect of cyberbullying that can make it particularly difficult to deal with it that since the people doing the cyberbullying can’t see the effect of their actions (so they know when they have clearly taken things too far), they often take things to levels that wouldn’t happen if the bullying was occurring face to face. So the person being cyberbullied can end up dealing with levels of cruelty and hurtful behaviors that might not happen if the bullying was being done in person.
How many teens are affected by cyberbullying?
Studies show that anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 of all teens in the U.S. have experienced some degree of cyberbullying.
What might someone do that would be considered a type of cyberbullying?
What are some negative reactions victims of cyberbullying might have?
With all of the social, emotional and cognitive changes and development occurring during adolescence, teenagers can be particularly affected by cyberbullying. This is a time of life when feeling included and liked by peers is especially important – so being targeted by peers in any kind of cruel manner can often leave teens feeling sad, scared, embarrassed, powerless, and angry. Sometimes these intense emotions can cause victims to:
Not only can the victims of cyberbullying have negative reactions, but sometimes their friends and family members can also look to seek revenge on the bully. There have been cases of parents being arrested because of various acts of threats or revenge towards the person they believe to be cyberbullying their child.
What are some positive reactions victims of cyberbullying might have?
What can you do if you don’t know who is cyberbullying you?
It may feel particularly scary if you are receiving threats or hurtful messages, but you don’t know who is behind them. But remember that while some cyberbullies may think they can act with total anonymity, they can be found. If you are being cyberbullied, save all communication received from the person who has targeted you and talk to a parent, teacher, law enforcement officer, or other adult you trust so that this person can be tracked down.
How can teens prevent cyberbullying?
Teens can help put an end to cyberbullying by doing the following:
What are some of the laws pertaining to cyberbullying?
What are some general ways to stay safe on the Internet?
For more information, go to the TeensHealth webpage on CYBERBULLYING.
Gay and lesbian teens can be at particular risk for cyberbullying. For help in the U.S., call 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386).
If you are being cyberbullied, speak to a trusted adult, such as a parent, teacher, or school counselor. If you are having trouble managing your thoughts, feelings, and reactions due to cyberbullying, consider speaking with a reputable mental health professional, such as a clinical social worker or clinical psychologist. If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.