What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying involves any unwarranted harassment or humiliation over a digital medium, commonly social media. Email, text messaging, online discussion forums, and online gaming platforms are also frequently used to cyberbully others.
Why does this concern me?
Cyberbullying doesn’t just apply to teens, and its effects could be long-lasting.
- According to Broadband Search, 37% of people online have experienced some form of cyberbullying.
- A staggering 87% of young people have observed cyberbullying online.
- Bullyingstatistics.org cites that over 50% of adolescents and teens have been cyberbullied online.
Stopbullying.gov highlights specific concerns related to cyberbullying and how it differs from standard bullying behaviors. The concerns associated are that cyberbullying can be:
- Persistent: The digital age has connected us more than ever, making it very difficult to disconnect and find relief from online harassment.
- Permanent: Comments and photos posted or sent in digital formats often live forever. Posting hurtful comments can affect someone’s reputation since our online persona’s become a reflection of ourselves, especially when applying to college or a job. This can affect both the cyberbully and the victim. The Arizona Coyotes, an NHL franchise, recently renounced their draft pick Mitchell Miller after reports about past bullying behavior had been confirmed.
- Hard to Notice: Even if the cyberbullying takes place during school hours, it can be difficult for administrators or teachers to notice because it’s not happening in front of them.
What to Do & How to Help?
Blocking, unfollowing, and muting associated accounts are all productive ways to disengage with a cyberbully, but sometimes that isn’t enough. To put a stop to cyberbullying we really need to get more online observers (friends and family) involved early so that they can jump to the defense of those they care about. No more bystanders, no more cyberbullies. If you see someone getting harassed or bullied online, reach out to that person, lend them a helping hand, and reassure them that they’re not alone.
The SWARM feature in presence allows you to do exactly that. When a member begins to post unusual content, inconsistent with their normal behavior, their SWARM gets notified. Fellow members are given contact options to call, text, WhatsApp, or reach to that particular post for support. Your message could save a life. Talking about mental health is a great place to start but can be extremely difficult in certain situations. Seize the Awkward provides some guidance in the form of conversation starters and tips.
What about the long-lasting effects?
Apart from the initial shame and despair that cyberbullying causes, the effects can be long lasting. In many cases, anxiety, depression and suicide can all be traced back to instances of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying victims often feel alone and become insecure. Not to mention, cyberbullying occurs over digital mediums, making it very hard to delete photos or messages. Those hurtful memories could reopen old wounds if not taken care of properly. If a loved one is experiencing cyberbullying, it may be hidden from view. It’s important to know the signs. The ADL has put together a list of behaviors that could indicate your child or loved one is being cyberbullied:
- Becoming sad or angry after using their phone
- Withdraws from family and friends
- Lack of desire or reluctance to engage in previously enjoyable activities
- An unexplained decline in grades
- Reluctance to go to school or a specific class
- Consistently self-reporting illnesses and expressing a desire to stay at home
- Prolonged signs of depression or sadness
It’s important to have a conversation about cyberbullying with the ones you love and victims should not be ashamed to discuss their traumas. Check in on those you care most for when they are not acting like their usual selves.
Advice from Presence CEO
Presence CEO and Founder Mukul Kumar says, the Internet can be destructive if not used with caution. He feels that it’s not far-fetched that our internet pattern could be used to decide whether we should have access to the Internet or not, something similar to our driver’s license. We don’t give a driver’s permit to an alcoholic.
“Many young people experience an extreme form of cyberbullying every day, which in some cases has pushed them to take their own lives. Technology companies have a responsibility to protect their users, especially children, and need to do more. That’s why we’re here.”
To protect children from cyberbullying, Kumar offers the following advice for parents: “If your kid experiences cyberbullying, you may want to delete the associated apps and keep them offline to recover and heal. Unfortunately, getting off the Internet is not a long-term solution. We have to strive for a symbiotic relationship with the Internet. That’s why we created Presence Global. We want to put an end to cyberbullying.”
Kumar has worked in cybersecurity for 20+ years and has amassed an impressive resume. He’s the closest thing to a cyber superhero that a business could have. Super Kul, right? He’s also my boss, I’m legally bound to say that, it’s in my contract. But he really is super cool. If you have questions about how to better protect your loved ones and your data, schedule a consultation with Mukul and the rest of the Presence team. We would be happy to help.
If the app is your data privacy companion, think of us as your data privacy trainers. We’ll see you there.
Presence is looking to partner with organizations to help raise awareness and support the fight against cyberbullying. If you’re interested in partnering with us, contact us!
For more information on cyberbullying: