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What are the Most Common Ways of Cyberbullying?

Julia Bateson

When a young person uses the Internet or technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person, this person is called a cyberbully.1 Typically, cyberbullying involves tweens and teens; but it’s not uncommon for adults to experience cyberbullying and public shaming as well.

Compared to traditional bullying, the effects of cyberbullying are often more significant. Not only do the hurtful messages reach an unlimited audience, but the words and images are often preserved online.2

Even if someone deletes a mean post, chances are it’s still available in some form such as in a screenshot or a shared text message. Worse yet, those targeted by cyberbullies often don’t know who is bullying them, so they often have no way to bring it to an end.

Methods of Cyberbullying

Text messaging – writing mean, abusive or threatening comments to someone

Social Network Bullying – posting cruel messages on sites like Facebook or creating false profiles or group about someone

Email and Instant Messaging bullying – sending nasty or threatening emails or instant messages

Sharing images – publishing or sharing photos, videos or webcam footage of someone without their permission

Chatroom bullying – saying mean, threatening or offensive things about others in online chatrooms 

Interactive Game bullying – deliberate blocking, ignoring or excluding an individual from multi-player games

Examples of Cyberbullying

Here are some examples of ways cyberbullies pretend to be the person they are targeting.

Harassment

Harassing someone is a common method of online bullying.

  • Participating in text wars or text attacks, which occur when bullies gang up on the victim and send thousands of texts.
  • Posting rumors, threats, or embarrassing information on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Impersonation

  • Change the target’s online profile to include sexual, racist, or other inappropriate things.
  • Develop a screen name that is similar to the victim’s screen name and then post rude or hurtful remarks while pretending to be the victim.

Inappropriate Photographs

Here’s a closer look at how cyberbullies may use photos and images to cyberbully others.

  • Posting nude pictures on photo sharing sites for anyone on the internet to view and download.
  • Sending mass emails or text messages that include nude or degrading photos of the victim.

Video Shaming

The use of videos may be used for online bullying. These short clips are often extremely hurtful to the people being targeted.

  • Downloading a video of something humiliating and posting it to YouTube in order to allow a larger audience to view the incident.
  • Sharing a video via mass e-mail or text messaging to humiliate and embarrass the victim.

Preventing Cyberbullying

When it comes to preventing cyberbullying, it’s important that you not only help your child implement some safety measures, but that you also have an ongoing dialogue about how to use social media safely. It’s also important to talk about the risks of cyberbullying and what to do if they are bullied online. Here are some ways that you can help prevent cyberbullying in your child’s life.

  1. Listen, reassure and support them. Give them your full emotional support
  2. Ask them not to reply – they are then making an active choice not to feed power to the bully
  3. Keep the evidence – make a written record of what’s happened
  4. Block the bullies – use the tools available according to where/how the messages are received. This may mean deleting from a ‘friends’ list
  5. Don’t deny access to technology – in other words ban. This is a major reason why children are afraid to tell their parent and carers they are being bullied. Moderate your child’s use instead.
  6. Perform a social media audit – Every few months, sit down with your child and go through their social media accounts. Talk about what should be deleted from their account because of the potential ways in which the posts could be misconstrued. Encourage your child to log out of social media apps for kids and email when on public computers.

Related: Kids Safety Apps

Although cyberbullying involves using social media, smartphones, text messages, and online apps as tools and weapons, these tools are not the problem. Cyberbullying occurs because of the choices kids make. Restricting your child’s digital access will not prevent them from being cyberbullied. In fact, kids can still create a fake profile and impersonate your child online.

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