Many of us have lived through the distress and anxiety of being bullied. For children today though, bullying has exacerbated and intensified. It has evolved, adding a new dimension to itself. Bullying in the physical world continues. The added dimensions of evolving technology and the advent of social media platforms have introduced into the mix, Cyberbullying.
Bullying, traditionally took the form of harsh words on school playgrounds, notes passed around inside a classroom, shoulder barges hallways and tuck shops. It was overt. It was obvious and it was painful to the victim and the victim’s family. Today, ‘that’ form of bullying continues. The new entrant in the bullying sphere is its silent and potentially more damaging sibling – cyberbullying, and it can be perpetrated from and to anywhere. What makes matters worse – it is most often anonymously executed.
Many in the community have moderated cyberbullying to be merely harmless name-calling on channels such as Facebook. However, cyberbullies today leverage a vast array of technology to bully their victims. Children today spend a significantly large percentage of time online. They leverage computers, mobile phones, tablets, gaming devices etc. Above 80% of children in a research study conveyed that it is easier to get away with cyberbullying. So when we analyse the landscape, children are spending more time in the cyber world and there is a higher plausibility of the cyberbully getting away with it. This makes for a perfect storm of bullying. The statistic that makes matters worse is only about 10% of cyberbullying victims tell their parents.
Most children won’t admit to being cyberbullied. Their silence can be owing to a multitude of factors – threats made by the bully (“You tell anyone and I will bully you even more”) or the shame of admitting they have gotten themselves into a dangerous situation, even though it is no fault of theirs. This means, as a parent or even as an educator, you will need to do some proactive observing to keep children safe from cyberbullies.
This Infographic from Saasyan sheds more light on the signs that a child is a victim of cyberbullying.