Cyberbullying is when someone uses technological tools to bully or harass another person. For example, a young person might use a cell phone, computer, or tablet to send hurtful or threatening messages to someone on social media, blogs, online chat, or video sites. It’s an act of unacceptable violence that can be punished by law.
If you post an image that harms someone’s reputation, that’s cyberbullying. Other people can save and use this image, even if you decide to delete it a few hours later.
Who engages in cyberbullying and why?
Did you know that most kids engage in cyberbullying at some point or have already done it at least once?
When we’re behind a screen, we have less empathy for the other person because we can’t see his/her reaction. It’s often because they are trying to gain power over another person, blow off steam, or get revenge. It’s an act of aggression that injures, scares, and harms the victim.
Careful! The consequences of your actions can catch up to you in real life! There are other ways of settling a conflict.
Loss of control
When an act of cyberbullying is committed, no one can predict what will happen. One single action can be shared and spread instantaneously. It can go public and reach an unlimited number of people. That’s what we call the social multiplier effect. Once the info is sent, we have no more control over how it’s distributed, passed on, and interpreted. It’s impossible to turn back: the damage is done!
Before writing or posting something that could humiliate, mock, frighten, or hurt someone, think carefully. Do you want to run the risk of ruining someone’s reputation? How will you feel if your message is reposted and distributed by tens or hundreds of people? And how do you think your victim will feel? Would you like to be in his/her place? Remember that, behind your screen, there are living, breathing people, and your actions can have more serious consequences than you think.
Don’t forget that if you witness cyberbullying and don’t do anything, you’re an accomplice. You’re adding to the number of people who see it, and that increases the victim’s distress. And if you share false information or a photo, or show it to other people, you’re actively participating in cyberbullying.