What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying comes in a whole range of different shapes and sizes and is something that is totally subjective to the person being cyberbullied. From research gathered by international youth charity Ditch the Label, it was found that more than 1 in 2 young people have experienced cyberbullying at some point in their lives.
“Cyberbullying is the use of digital technologies with an intent to offend, humiliate, threaten, harass or abuse somebody.”– Ditch the Label
We are increasingly living our lives online and so being subjected to cyberbullying can feel incredibly personal, isolating and overwhelming. This quick guide will tell you everything that you need to know about cyberbullying, from what it is, how it happens and why it’s important to talk about it.
How can Cyberbullying happen?
Cyberbullying looks and can feel different depending on the space it is happening in and there are an almost unlimited number of ways in which it can happen. Here are a few key examples:
- Threatening private messages
- Abusive and anonymous questions and comments
- Abusive posts in the comment section on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram
- Rumours and private information being shared in online forums
- Sharing of private and embarrassing photos
- Somebody using your photos and information to impersonate and defame you
- Being targeted in a game and having your gameplay negatively affected
- Having rumours about you shared in WhatsApp groups
- Being excluded from group chats on purpose to make you or someone else feel isolated
Essentially if it’s digital and there to cause you harm, it could be considered as cyberbullying.
Where can it happen?
You might think that cyberbullying exists only in the realm of social media, and whilst this might have been true once, this is no longer the case. There are lots of different behaviours that can constitute cyberbullying, and these can take place essentially anywhere online.
It can happen in online Zoom classes, in an online game, within a game or even in the comment section on a news article. Of course, social media is still the key space where a lot of it will go down, but as social media keeps evolving so does cyberbullying.
What Impact Can It Have And Why Should We Even Be Talking About This?
There is a fake perception that online abuse isn’t harmful and that people receiving it should just ‘switch it off’. This is completely false and there is a huge bank of research that shows the devastating consequences that online abuse can, and does have on mental health, relationships and even performance at school or work. In extreme cases, cyberbullying can drive people to suicide, self-harm, anxiety and depression.
As a result of cyberbullying:
- 4-in-10 felt anxious
- 4-in-10 felt depressed
- 1-in-4 had suicidal thoughts
- 14% developed an eating disorder
- 9% abused drugs or alcohol
Reference: The Annual Bullying Survey 2017: https://www.ditchthelabel.org/research-papers/the-annual-bullying-survey-2017/
Cyberbullying is also a widespread issue, affecting a huge amount of people, and so it is incredibly important to talk about and to take a stand against online abuse. Cyberbullying should never be considered normal or just ‘part of growing up’, which is why got2b and Ditch the Label have united to support those who are impacted.
Where Can You Go For Support?
Whenever you experience anything traumatic, it is always important to talk to somebody as bottling it up and keeping it to yourself in the long-term can make it even harder.
You should know that you can always go to a trusted adult, sibling or friend in your life for support when you are dealing with cyberbullying. Below are some additional places you can turn to for help and support:
Ditch the Label
Ditch the Label is a global youth charity here to support you through a wide range of issues, including cyberbullying and the impact it can have on your mental health. They operate an online support community where you can speak to a trained mentor. You can also report online abuse directly to them here.