Talking about cyberbullying

September 05th 2017

Talking about cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a newer form of bullying which has become a big concern for parents, teachers, professionals and young people due to the negative impact it can have on people’s lives. In this blog I will talk about what cyberbullying is? Its impact, along with practical ways in which it can be stopped from happening and ways in which you can receive support should you have been impacted by it.

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is any behaviour performed through electronic or digital media by individuals or groups that repeatedly communicates hostile or aggressive messages intended to inflict harm or discomfort on others. Cyberbullying can impact anyone, can happen at any age and is thought to impact between 20-40% of young people worldwide. Cyberbullying can take many forms including harassment, impersonation and excluding others. Cyberbullying differs from traditional bullying in that there is usually a larger audience and there are no time or location barriers.

There are 3 main roles have been identified within the bullying cycle: the bully, the target, and bystanders. Usually the bully has a strong need for power. In fact, the main purpose of bullying behaviours is to undermine the social status of the target while raising the bully's self-esteem and social status. As a consequence, bullying actions usually take place in front of an audience. Bystanders can support the bully, defend the victim, or serve as passive onlookers. Targets are generally thought of as having lower status than their aggressors and tend to isolate themselves due to bullying appearing unable to defend themselves and in need of protection.

The Impact of Cyberbullying

Young people who are targets of cyberbullying generally have to deal with a host of negative problems similar to traditional bullying including: lower self-esteem, higher levels of depression, anxiety, loneliness, social anxiety, lower self-esteem, emotional distress, academic issues, substance misuse and suicidal ideation. The extent to which young people suffer these issues depend on the frequency, length and severity of the acts of bullying.

I am the target of cyberbullying, what should I do?

If you are a target of cyberbullying, it is very important that you talk to: to your parent (s), loved ones, friends, G.P., teacher, employer, college tutor about your experience of being cyberbullied, or contact us here at Jigsaw Dublin 15. Always remember, what you are experiencing is not your fault.

Other practical things that you can do are: (1) change your username and/or passwords, (2) put the privacy setting as high as possible so that people can’t see your information and (3) put as little personal information and photos up online as possible.

I am the bystander in the cyberbullying cycle, what should I do?

If you find yourself being a bystander and witness to cyberbullying, it is important to: (1) try to understand what the cybervictim might be feeling, (2) remember ‘no audience, no show’: don’t give the bully any positive feedback for their actions e.g. joining in or laughing at the cybervictim, (3) if it is safe to do so, challenge the cyberbully’s actions or report them to the relevant authority e.g. teacher or tutor in college.

I am the cyberbully in the cyberbullying cycle, what should I do?

If you are the cyberbully, or feel unsure as to whether your behaviour would be seen as cyberbullying, it is important to: (1) stop the behaviour as this will immediately reduce its impact, (2) recognise that just because it is happening online, where it is harder to see people’s reactions, that it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt the other person, (3) if you are having difficulties in your life, talk to your parent (s), loved ones, friends, G.P., teacher, employer, college tutor or contact us here at Jigsaw Dublin 15 and talk through some of the difficulties that you might be experiencing.

There may also be a Jigsaw near you who can provide guidance and support for young people aged 12-25 who are experiencing difficulties. Check our website to by clicking this link find your nearest Jigsaw.  Alternatively, you can log on to yourmentalhealth.ie and search for mental health support services near you or talk to your GP (General Practitioner) about supports in your local area. 

Alan Maddock – Clinical Support Worker – Jigsaw Dublin 15