Cyberbullying can happen to anyone, at any time – and at any age. How can adults deal with various forms of online abuse and harassment?
Whenever cyberbullying is mentioned, our thoughts usually connect the issue with children or teenagers. Psychologists, organizations, public figures and others concerned have said a lot about cyberbullying. However, we often fail to recognize that adults can also become victims of cyberbullying.
If you think adults are victims, just read the comments on social media posts from celebrities, athletes, or even politicians. You could say: “These are public figures; you should be able to handle it! “As far as constructive criticism is concerned, definitely. But when does criticism cross the line and turn into cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is not limited to public figures. Each of us can become a goal. Skeptical? The Pew Research Center disagrees. The recent online harassment study found that approximately four out of ten adults in the United States personally experienced online harassment, with a quarter of respondents finding their experience to be very or very worrying.
And if that didn't bring home the point that everyone, regardless of age, could be a target, then this quote from a 59-year-old victim's Pew study could read: “Cyberbullies that are anonymous are relentless. You find a weakness and keep pounding it. "
On the occasion of the Stop Cyberbullying Day, we should learn about the signs and threats of cyberbullying and how we can withstand it.
What is cyberbullying?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines cyberbullying as “the electronic sending of common messages about a person (e.g. a student) that is often anonymous,” while stopbullying.gov says that “cyberbullying is bullying that occurs through digital devices such as Mobile phones are taking place, computers and tablets. "
It takes place in social media, messaging services, comment areas, forums or even on gaming platforms. Social media is the most widely used channel. Almost 60% of Americans surveyed in the Pew study said the latest episode of harassment was through social media.
Different types of cyberbullying attacks can occur. Some bullies focus on your beliefs – political, religious, or otherwise – while others target your physical appearance, character, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or anything that turns out to be an easy target and you shocked.
Your bullies may be trying to humiliate you by revealing sensitive personal information that you'd prefer to keep private. Often the person who molested you is a stranger, but in some cases it can be a friend, a co-worker, or a former romantic partner.
When several perpetrators practice cyberbullying, this is referred to as bullying. The action is sometimes associated with the workplace where other employees try to force someone away from work through intimidation, humiliation, spreading malicious rumors, or otherwise.
RELATED READING: Cyberbullying: How Is It Different from Face to Face Bullying?
We also mentioned game platforms. Cyberbullying is widespread in the gaming community. It usually happens when a player's game performance is not optimal within a team. The other team members then abuse them with personal attacks and vulgar language. The worst manifestation of cyberbullying (and not just in the gaming community) is swatting, a tactic that misleads emergency services to send a police response team to someone else's address by mistakenly reporting a hostage situation or a bomb hazard. In some cases, these incidents have resulted in death.
Political discussions in social media or in various forums can also prove to be breeding grounds for cyberbullying. The mood is high and the participants want to convince you that their chosen party is the solution to all problems in the country. Civil discourse can turn into hate speech-filled virtual shouting with insidious comments and ad-hominem arguments. Unfortunately, trolls like to join in to light the fire and see what happens.
What can you do to protect yourself from cyberbullying?
Protective and reaction measures
When children and adolescents are bullied online, they are usually advised to contact adults for help. But what can adults do? Who are they contacting?
Well, surprisingly, the advice remains pretty similar. Adults should contact other adults – in this case, the authorities. Cyberbullying is considered a crime in many parts of the developed world. The police or organizations involved in this type of crime can then initiate an investigation.
But what should you do if you want to avoid contacting the police and want to keep this as a last resort?
Most social media platforms have tools to deal with any type of online abuse. You can report inappropriate comments, posts and profiles on Facebook. The last one can also be blocked. The social media giant also offers sites on its platform that deal with abusive behavior and bullying or harassment. Instagram also encourages users to report cases of bullying and harassment and provides resources to help those who have experienced it. Twitter also offers advice on how to deal with online abuse on its platform.
When it comes to online gaming platforms, this usually applies. The majority of popular game platforms offer safeguards against online bullying and harassment. Usually, this consisted of a combination of manual reporting of players and automated detection of abusive behavior, which can lead to temporary and permanent bans on repeat offenders. You can argue that you can log in again via another email, but you have to start your journey through the game from scratch. This can be a sufficient deterrent for an avid gamer who is also involved in cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is never the victim's fault: no one should be treated and attacked hard, no matter who he is, where he comes from or who he loves – under no circumstances anyone. If something happens to you in this way, do not keep it in bottles. rather seek help. Talk to your friends, family, HR officials, or even health professionals. They will help you find a solution to the problem.
It is also important to keep evidence of cyberbullying and online abuse so that you can demonstrate that if you chose to report it, it did. Keep copies of direct messages, blog posts, social media posts, emails, photos or whatever has been used.
The following websites offer advice and contacts for advisory services:
Cybersmile (different countries)
Cyberbullying Research Center (United States)
National Bullying Helpline (United Kingdom)
Netsafe (New Zealand)
Cyber B.A.A.P. (India)
To learn more about how cyberbullying affects children and how technology can help, visit Safer Kids Online.
Amer Owaida June 19, 2020 – 11:30 a.m.