We have all witnessed the success of, and the major benefits brought to us by the technologies we call social media. With just the click of a button, a text message or image or even a video can be sent from you to another party, eradicating the need for our ancestors’ face-to-face meetings. But with this blessing comes a major curse, one of which is far much worse than death. Why do I say so? What kills you is not what stops your heart from breathing, but what prevents you from living. Cyberbullying can do exactly the latter, prevent you from living. The game tactics of cyberbullying are just the same as the old high-school bullying that most of us know, except that here, technology is the medium of bullying and the bully is often anonymous. There also exists whooping large motives for cyberbullying as the modern technology is majorly a one-way traffic, “easy to do, difficult or impossible to undo,” making you leave behind (every time you post that video on Instagram) something that can be used against you by the bullies. Each year cyberbullying becomes a larger force, especially among the youths. As I thought, the best way to protect your child is to know what you’re protecting them from.
Cyberbullying is the use of technology to support deliberate, hostile and hurtful behaviours towards an individual or group. It can happen to anyone – children, youth and adults. Cyberbullying can be an extension of face-to-face bullying, with technology providing an additional route to harass an individual or group. It can also be a way for someone being bullied face-to-face to retaliate. It can be carried out by individuals or groups who are known to the person being bullied, but due to the lack of authentication in major social media platforms, the identity of these people can go undetected. There are also cases where individuals have been cyberbullied by people or groups they have never met. The forms and media of this malicious acts are discussed below.
Media of cyberbullying
Once cyberbullies get hold of a victim’s email, they can engage in email attacks.
Whereby the bully sends large numbers of harassing messages from anonymous accounts. They may also sign the email up for explicit email lists (spam), which flood the account with inappropriate material in order to get the victim in trouble with their parents and/or authority.
Messages and text wars
Cyberbullies engage in “text wars” by recruiting a group with the purpose of spamming a victim’s phone with hundreds of harassing messages. The messages may be sent via SMS, online messengers, texting apps, instant messenger or a combination of media.
The fact that blogging websites are both public and widely shared, cyberbullies can directly call out their victim by tagging them in a blog or blog comment. They then spread the post throughout the blogging community and other connected social channels. Others may also gain the courage of associating your blog with other malicious activities like commenting on your blog by sending links to adult sites, in order to associate your blog with the same.
Cyberbullies attack their victims on social media by publically posting or privately sending harassing messages. They may also create a fake account of the victim (impersonation), or use a fake account of a made-up persona to tease the victim (catfishing).
Forms of cyberbullying
Threats and intimidation
Threats can include violence, including sexual violence, or threats to disclose information about someone that may harm them, or that they are not ready to share – for example, the threat to make someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity is known (to ‘out’ someone) when they may not feel ready for this. Threats can be sent by mobile phone SMS, email, within online games, via comments on websites, social networking sites or message boards.
Harassment or stalking
Most of us enjoy stalker movies, and in here is absolutely no different from the way described in the movie. It may take various forms like; tracking someone’s activity and collecting information about them, for example by searching databases and social network services; by pretending to be other people and ‘friending’ the person; or by using spyware. Someone may also 'dox' you. Doxing (which comes from the slang ‘dox’ for ‘documents’) is the practice of posting personal information about someone online without their permission. Other bullies may repeatedly send an unwanted text or instant messages, or make phone calls (including silent calls). Generally, it involves using public forums, such as social networking sites or message boards, to repeatedly harass, or to post derogatory or defamatory statements.
Posting upsetting or defamatory remarks about an individual online, or name-calling, general insults, and prejudice-based bullying, for example sexist, homophobic and racist messages. Unfortunately, for they who consider not the nature of the images they send to social media are much prone to ‘Slut-shaming’. It can be defined as the practice of attacking (primarily) girls and women on the grounds of perceived or fabricated transgressions of socially acceptable sexual behaviours i.e. reposting of texts or images, or the fabrication of information. This practice attacks girls and women on the grounds of their gender and sexual identities and aims to regulate their behaviour by sending the message that what is deemed as sexually inappropriate conduct can be legitimately used to publically humiliate them, whether they engage in it or not.
Nothing feels worse than rejection, it sparks a major interior monologue full of rhetorical questions. Online exclusion may be harder to detect than people being marginalised in a physical space, such as a classroom. Social networking sites can be an important extension of a person’s social space and activity. On some services, it is possible for members to set up a closed group, which can protect members from unwanted contact but can also be used to exclude others. Functions that can be used to block abusive behaviour can also be used to exclude others online. Making someone feel that they are not of someone else’s league is expressed here. I wish they knew how important to some social media is.
Identity theft/unauthorised access and impersonation
Unauthorised access to systems, accounts or files is not automatically a form of cyberbullying, but it is always a serious issue. Unauthorised access to computer material is illegal. There are cases where sites have been set up which make use of school logos and name, or using photographs of staff or students taken from the school website without permission. This may get worse when the involved site is for crime or falsity.
Victims can react in various ways. Some will send the abuse back basing on the principle for an eye for an eye. Others will attempt to change their appearance to make the bullying stop. If the bullying was based on physical appearance or the product of the same, the victims may try to correct this faster by using unconventional means e.g. of shading weight, while ending up hurting themselves. Others may engage in self-harm as a way to cope, and a large percentage experience a loss of self-esteem which is a major factor for child development. 3 Unfortunately, cyberbullying’s effects don’t necessarily stop when the harassment does. Past victims are twice as likely to have future issues holding down a job since most companies do data mining on their prospective employees and in the process they may come across something nasty about you. Some even develop habits such as smoking in order to cope with the stress. Anyway, they end up developing a psychological disorder and are 2 to 9 percent more likely to commit suicide. Major Kenyan politician has also been heard claiming to have kept off the social media-life space reduced indeed.
The seriousness of this crime is one worth spending billions into. I look forward to hearing of an African anti-online bullying campaign, or just a body concerned with the same.