Cyber-Bullying - A Dark Side of the Electronic Communications

The old saying "sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me" may seem like good advice, but with today's technology, bullying has taken on another level. "Cyber bullying is a willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of e-mail, cell phone, instant messaging and defamatory Web sites. It is an act of aggression that can take the form of purposeful harassment, such as making unwanted, derogative, nasty or threatening comments through electronic communications or spreading rumors, short clips, or altered photos that are offensive or embarrassing the victim by posting them on a Web site."

Cyber-bullying can be as simple as continuing to send e-mail to someone who has said they want no further contact with the sender, but it may also include threats, sexual remarks, pejorative labels (i.e., hate speech), ganging up on victims by making them the subject of ridicule in forums, and posting false statements as fact aimed at humiliation. Cyber-bullies may disclose victims' personal data (e.g. real name, address, or workplace/schools) at websites or forums or may pose as the identity of a victim for the purpose of publishing material in their name that defames or ridicules them. Cyber bullying is a new threat that can be insidious and difficult to manage or prosecute. Given that the bullying is conducted online and via cell phone technology, it is difficult for law enforcement to track. But cyber bullying has proven dangerous, as teens have committed suicide after enduring attacks via high-tech channels. This appears mostly with young people through social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. In these situations, personal information, threats and even online videos may be used to target a victim.

Research had demonstrated a number of serious consequences of cyber-bullying victimization. For example, victims have lower self-esteem, increased suicidal ideation, and a variety of emotional responses, cyber bullying back, being scared, frustrated, angry, and depressed. One of the most damaging effects is that a victim begins to avoid friends and activities, often the very intention of the cyber-bully.

This article is provides information about the risks of cyber bullying as well as what parents can do to avoid their children becoming victims. Parental mediation is necessary and important when it comes to internet use and the amount of information shared and what kind of websites their children visit and search. Adolescents are more prone to psychological distress because of cyber bullying as the offender hides behind the computer screen and continue to harass the teen via emails, instant messages and text messages.

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