Cyberbullying is using technology to harass, threaten, stalk, embarrass or target a person. This includes online threats, mean, aggressive or rude texts, posts, messages or tweets. It also means posting personal information, pictures or videos of someone else to hurt or embarrass them.

In short, it is anything posted online that can hurt, harass or upset someone else. Intimidation or mean comments/ posts focus on things like a person’s gender, religion, sexual orientation, physical differences or race.

Although many assume that online bullying is only found among tweens and teens, it is not uncommon for adults as well to experience cyberbullying and public shaming. How many times have we seen actresses or models made fun of or critiqued on personal issues like their body, looks or other choices?

Online bullying can be damaging and upsetting as it is anonymous and hard to trace. It is also difficult to control, and the person being targeted has no idea how many people have seen or shared the posts or messages.

Types of Cyber Bullying

Social media has become one of the top ways people- especially teens and tweens- communicate with each other. This has also led to a rise in cyberbullying among teenagers. Some common forms of cyberbullying are:

  • Harassment: Harassing someone has become a common method of online bullying. This happens when someone uses technology to torment another person. Sometimes they use a site’s report button to get the person in trouble or blocked from using it when they are doing nothing wrong. It includes texting a person to cause them emotional distress and posting rude, insulting or mean comments in personal messages or in the comments section of social media platforms and stalking and harassment using online platforms

  • Impersonation: Impersonation is one of the forms of cyberbullying where one person impersonates another person online. A common way of doing this is by hacking the account or stealing their password. If this is not possible, they use a similar screen name and use it to post rude and hurtful remarks while pretending to be the target. Catfishing is another form of impersonation seen in cyberbullying incidents. In this case, people pretend to be someone else in order to lure an unsuspecting person into a fake relationship.

  • Inappropriate Photographs: People who cyberbully use photographs to bully or shame other people. This means posting embarrassing or inappropriate images or nudes that were either shared with them privately or taken without the target’s knowledge, like in a bathroom, locker room and dressing room. These photos are then used by them as weapons and posted online on social media or photo-sharing sites for others to view and download. This also includes sharing a girl’s pictures in groups to “rate” them or to pass inappropriate comments amongst each other, also known as ‘locker room talk’.


Consequences of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying among teenagers has long-lasting consequences. It can cause the victim to experience serious physical, psychological and emotional consequences. They may complain of fear and anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. The stress of being in a constant state of fear can greatly affect a person’s mood, energy levels, sleep and appetite. Victims of cyberbullying can find it difficult to feel safe, to trust others and may often feel alone and isolated.

 

How To Deal With Cyberbullying

If you or someone you know has been a victim of cyberbullying, there are some things that you can do:

  1. Tell someone about it: The first thing to do is to find someone you trust and confide in them with the problems you are facing. Although easier said than done, bullying can get worse and sometimes dealing with teen bullying is not as simple as it seems. So, you need to speak up until you find someone who can help you. Many people are hesitant with this as they are not sure who is doing the bullying or as embarrassed and reluctant to report it. Talk to your parents; a trusted older sibling, a school counsellor or a trusted teacher about it.

  2. Walk away: Ignoring bullies may be the best way to take away their power- whether it is in real life or online. If you see something upsetting, turn off your computer or phone and don’t respond to it. Find something to distract yourself and do something that you enjoy, like playing the guitar, going for a walk, or losing yourself in a book or movie. Taking a break will allow you to keep things in perspective and focus on the good things in your life.

  3. Resist the urge to respond: Responding when upset can worsen things. Taking a break will give the power back to you. Although it can be effective sometimes, it is more likely to provoke the person and escalate the situation. It may not be a good idea to respond to a bully, but it is a good idea to save any evidence of the bullying if you can.

  4. Report the bullying: Social media sites take bullying seriously. If the user reports abuse, the site administrator may block the bully from using the site in the future.

  5. Block the bully


Report cyberbullying in India by mailing a complaint to complaint-mwcd@gov.in