June 3, 2022
In recent years, cyberbullying has become a problem of great concern. It includes threats, harassment, and offensive words, as well as posting personal photos or videos by means of electronic media. More and more people suffer from the attacks via social networks at home or at school. The majority of victims of cyberbullying are teenagers aged from 10 to 20 years. Unlike adults, teens have less resistance to psychological attacks from the offenders. As the principal aspiration of the teens consists in self-approval among the representatives of the same age, cyberbullying creates obstacles for socialization and promotes a negative attitude toward the victim. The consequences of cyberbullying include lowering of self-esteem, worsening of performance at school, drug or alcohol abuse, rude behavior, and profound depression resulting in suicide.
The first case of cyberbullying took place in 1998 when the world community got to know about the love affair of former US President Bill Clinton and Monika Lewinski. Cyberbullying cases grew in number after 2010 when most social networks emerged. As the victims were teens with vulnerable psychology, it resulted in a large number of suicides the rates of which increased every year. Cyberbullying also became a lucrative business for the creators of suicide games and offenders earning more likes for each view of the offensive materials. Many progressive countries suffer from increasing rates of suicide among teens. Some anti-bullying organizations take action to solve this serious problem.
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Keywords: cyberbullying, psychological problems, addiction, suicide, teenagers
The access to information gives an opportunity to find any person online and share the data found. Although it is good to have a chance to communicate and send content via social networks or mail, the Internet environment can be dangerous due to such kind of accessibility. Even though a person might guess what to do in case of a virus alert, personal attacks by means of cyberspace can be confusing. Cyberbullying is characterized as a kind of attack when a person offends an Internet user within the online space which can result in mobbing, loss of social status, and deep depression. This problem becomes particularly urgent when children become victims of such attacks. Having no knowledge on how to show resistance to bullying or humiliation in real life can be a formidable problem even for an adult. Thus, such a lack of experience necessitates profound research on the issue of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is the use of technology in order to harass, threaten or humiliate another individual (Cyberbullying, n.d.). Youth and teenagers are the ones who most often suffer from cyberbullying. When an offender is an adult, the malicious action is regarded as a cyberharassment or cyberstalking which can result in imprisonment. Being a crime, cyberbullying causes a lot of trouble when it is unnoticeable. A child is often shy to confess that some person humiliates him or her or hides the credentials to post offensive materials about the victim which are impossible to delete. As a result, a child can lose friends, become unwelcomed within the social group or class, and demonstrate worsening of performance. Such problems often result in taking drugs or alcohol and missing school. Having no friends and lowered self-esteem causes deep depression that is difficult to overcome. Such children feel unwanted and may even commit suicide. Cyberbullying indicates a life threat to youth in different places, which necessitates young people to understand the danger and the elements of cyberbullying as well as to know how to prevent it because otherwise, it can result in depression, substance abuse, and suicide.
Cyberbullying is a problem of great concern for many countries. Australia, the USA, and EU countries are trying to fix the cases of cyberbullying. Therefore, the international nature of the problem allows using the integrated methods to be applied to different cases related to cyberbullying. In addition, the global nature of the problem implies that cyberbullying has its history. Due to the absence of proper methods for its eradication, it was impossible for a victim to find a way out. Moreover, many cases of cyberharassment and cyberbullying remained undiscovered. Thus, searching for the proper way of defeating the attacker and solving the issue becomes more complicated in a similar situation.
Cyberharrasment is dangerous because of its unknown impact. The principal issue in relation to the ignorance regarding the problem is that it remains unseen. Such kind of influence changes the world look of the victim from positive to depressing. The offender convinces that the existence of an individual is useless, which results in lowered self-esteem and depression. Suicide as a result of such kind of humiliation via the internet is often irrevocable. The impossibility to eradicate or prevent cyberbullying raises the need to carry out consultations regarding the prevention and elimination of such malicious offensive actions and knowing how to resist profound psychological problems.
When investigating various cases of bullying and offences, it is often difficult to detect the offence as children tend to hide the fact of being bulled. The investigators confirm that many kids remain reluctant to inform their parents about bullying (Cyberbullying, n.d.). Nevertheless, the statistics show that 1 per four young respondents become victims of cyberbullying through digital media and social networks. There are fewer offenders enlisted in numbers making the indices of 1 per 6 teens that offend, threaten or harass the others. According to the recent studies conducted by S. Hinduja (2016), the school policies regarding the use of cell phones vary. Some educational establishments allow using mobiles, while the others partially permit and still others forbid the use of gadgets in classes completely. Each school has its system of filters, blocks and audit of harassment cases. Such differentiation appeals to the federal representatives who create practical and clear guidance to reduce the harassment and promote tolerance, respect and kindness. The absence of such assistance causes the increase in the cyberbullying cases which tend to be more complicated due to their severe consequences.
The investigators consider the beginning of cyberbullying to be the situation of Monika Lewinski. A woman living a quiet life could not expect that falling in love with her boss could result in a tremendous scandal known worldwide. The outspread of the offensive information about the former President was somewhat less compared to the data concerning his mistress. In 1998, when the scandal took place, there was no means to explain it. The rapid outspread of offensive information acquired the meaning of cyberbullying. In 2010, when most social media networks appeared, similar situations happened to more people and the rates of cyberharassment increased (Bilton, 2015).
From a negative perspective, many scholars consider cyberbullying to be a disease due to its quick outspread. A person sitting in front of the computer and printing offensive phrases is the bearer of the virus (Fraser, 2013, March 9). Such a virus spreads quickly to the individual with a favorable social status. After reading the offensive posts, a young person behaves in a similar way and thus confirms that the offenses addressed are true. Imitation of the offender’s behavior demonstrates the contagiousness of the ‘virus’ (Fraser, 2013). 42% of girls proved to have similar reactions both among offenders and victims (Del Rey et al, 2016). It, therefore, means that the offenders engaged in cyberbullying are the former victims of the crime (Bilton, 2015). Consequently, the formation of the correct reaction towards the cybercriminal can eliminate further consequences of the offence.
On the other hand, a quick extension of negative information allows considering cyberbullying from a positive perspective. As an efficient way of making money, the rates of cyberbullying have grown. As a profitable business, it is based on the frequency of clicks and likes. The authors of such information are anonymous and can act without the recognition of the victim. The non-expectancy effect in this situation works better and the victim suffers more. Sometimes such actions provide truthful information and increase parental control which is necessary for children who cannot perform well and suffer from drug addiction (Benefits of Cyber Bullying, 2011). When considering the situation of Lewinski-Clinton, knowing of the love affair of the President was vital for preventing the negative outcomes that the secrecy could reveal. Taking into account that negative information attracts more interest than positive one, cyberbullying has become a lucrative business. The more negative the information, the more clicks it produces (Benefits of Cyber Bullying, 2011; Bilton, 2015).
The absence of distinct ways of preventing and solving the issues of cyberbullying requires the enrollment of psychologists and federal representatives to prevent youth from offence. The offences delivered electronically have become the means of money-making and prosperity. That is why the guidance policy within the educational establishments is a starting point of developing long-term upbringing programs to achieve workable results. Organizations founded to assist and prevent the unfavorable outcomes of cyberbullying should cooperate with the governments and eradicate the crimes at every level.
When analyzing the harmful impact of cyberbullying, it is often impossible to observe its symptoms. In many cases, the signs of humiliation remain unseen for the families at the beginning stage of the cyberbullying attack. The later periods demonstrate anxiety, negative shifts of mood, lowering of performance, etc. At this stage, it becomes more difficult to assist the victim as he or she is less capable of coping with the problem.
On the one hand, the necessity to address and eradicate cyberbullying comes from the reported suicides among children in the USA and Australia. The researchers demonstrate at least 3 cases reporting suicide among teenagers aged 10-17. In particular, Tyrone Unsworth, a boy of 13 died on November 22, 2016 because of being bullied (Bogart, N. (2016).)It took several months to convince the boy of the uselessness of his existence and claim that everybody wants him to die. Another two suicides were committed by a boy of 17 Daniel Perry and a girl of 14 Hannah Smith in 2013 (Harrison, 2013). The former victim had been suffering from blackmailing for several months with no signs of the problem. The offender asked the boy to deposit thousands of pounds; otherwise, offensive videos and photos with him will be in social media. The latter received offensive comments on her fattiness and ugliness provoking her to commit suicide. Such a long history and the lack of policies and actions enforce society to take urgent measures and eradicate the crimes that take away the lives of children.
On the other hand, cyberbullying is effective in terms of boosting a strong society. Some people can resist it, while others fail to do so. As a conscientious individual, Monika Lewinski managed to overcome her difficulties and remain strong. The woman exemplified the deadly case of an 18-year-old Rutgers University student Taylor Clementy (Bilton, 2015) which gave birth to the term of cyberbullying. The UK non-profit organization ChildLine reported an 87% increase in suicide rates during 2012-2013 (Topping, 2014) The UK journalist T. Mann (2017) reports 130 deaths of Russian teenagers aged 13-17 between November 2016 and March 2017 due to the game called Blue Whale. The tasks included walking in the night or cutting a symbol of a whale on one’s hand. The participants received the orders from the masters. Winning the game meant committing suicide. Also, the Netherland study confirmed that cyberbullying led to suicide among the youth more frequently than offline bullying (Bilton, 2015) clearing the society from the weak. The authors of websites and games provoking youth to commit suicide remain unknown. Although it is a challenge for the civilization to stay strong, many children tend to play suicide games bringing more money to their authors (Mann, 2017). Unsetting psychology, lack of experience and the popularity of the Internet are some of the contributing factors of cyberbullying. It is reasonable for some people to get rid of unstable individuals weakening the development of the society. The absence of the victims will eliminate the need for cyberbullying.
The financial side and the need to purify society from unwanted individuals do not vindicate the value of human life. Thus, the evaluation of the impact of cyberbullying identifies that this kind of offence consists in criminal responsibility based on provoking suicide. In addition, profound depression and fears resulting from the malicious impact of the offenders require conducting rehabilitation courses and proper long-term psychological treatment. As the victims are mostly teenagers and their social position, psychology and worldview are still under formation, it is necessary to find a solution relevant to their age peculiarities to prevent further harmful consequences of the problem capable of causing harm to the individual during his/her entire life.
The solution to cyberbullying involves conducting consultations with children and teenagers who most frequently fall under the category of victims. That is why the ways of preventing and eliminating cyberbullying should be based on the individual and public consultations at schools. Therefore, the decisions to stop cyberbullying will concentrate on consulting children at school and taking preventive measures to limit the utilization of electronic media. Yet, it involves not only limiting the usage of social media accounts but also establishing mutual support and understanding. Such an attitude denotes an empathic approach and promotes sincerity between the members of the family. As a result, more cases of cyberbullying will be possible to detect.
According to the above-mentioned facts, the insufficiency of empathy is characteristic of the developed countries. When delivering her speech, Monika Lewinski also claimed that youth lacks attention and care. The support of her friends, family, and even strangers helped her overcome the difficulty of being bullied and motivated her not to give up. The study conducted among the Greek and Spanish students also showed similar facts (Del Rey, et al., 2016) claiming that empathy predicted bullying perpetration.
National Gender and age peculiarities determine the suitable ways of expressing empathy. The investigators distinguished affective or spontaneous empathy between friends to be a sign of compassion and support, while cognitive empathy is based on some effort and the need to understand the distressing situation and suggest solutions. Empathy helps better explain and predict the bullying behavior of the offender. Preventive interventions conducted at schools target the development of empathy (School-Based Efforts to Prevent Cyberbullying, 2015; Del Rey et al., 2016). This perspective is similar to the conception of N. Bilton (2016) and S. Hinduja (2017). A combination of consulting and boosting empathy which anticipates tolerance, kindness, and respect aimed to eradicate cyberbullying proved to be efficient in many countries for different age groups, genders, and nationalities.
After the recent tragic events, anti-cyberbullying organizations The Tyler Clementi Foundation in the USA, Project Rocket in Australia, ChildLine, and Entitling Pro in the UK started to consult numerous young people who lost the meaning of life (Bilton, 2015; Topping, 2014; School-Based Efforts to Prevent Cyberbullying, 2015). Although the unfavorable tendencies in cyberbullying seem to be uncommon in developed countries, the Internet technologies, as well as the ignorance and neglect creating the illusion of safety, make this issue unresolved.
Reduction in the use of gadgets by adolescents aged 15-19 can decrease cyberbullying. In this case, one should address friends rather than parents (Wadian, Jones, Sonnentag, & Barnett, 2016; Hinduja& Patchin, 2015). Limiting the usage of mobile phones presupposes the implementation of basic measures to preserve cybersecurity. Having secret PIN code on various gadgets and changing it regularly can prevent hacking and unauthorized access to personal information and its further outspread. Giving out one’s phone number to the people one knows is an understandable measurement followed by all the teens. Yet, when a child receives a call from an unknown number, it can cause suspicion. In this case, it seems better to call back and ask the interlocutor to introduce him/herself. One should forbid answering the messages sent from an unknown number.
Selecting friends rather than parents as potential advisors to stop cyberbullying is reasonable from a psychological point of view. Adolescents intend to approve their social status and feel like adults, so they resolve their problems on their own or with the help of their mates. That is why consulting at schools is an appropriate method in facing cyber harassment.
A combination of the empathic approach, the safety of the gadget access, counseling, and school training among adolescents contributes to the efficient eradication of cyberbullying. The coordination of schools with the help of anti-cyberbullying organizations and the government will simplify finding and predicting the dangerous outcomes of cyberbullying and prevent the further spread of this crime.
Cyberbullying refers to the most dangerous crime of the digital era targeting children and teenagers. The danger of this crime is that its creators are children of the same age as the victims. Using unauthorized access to the account, sending posts across social media, and sharing personal or offensive materials lead to profound depression, low performance, and development of addictions. The negative consequences of cyberbullying prevail in terms of high rates of suicide. The deaths of the young people become the point to consider after having done nothing to avoid such an outcome. It should teach society to assist and eradicate the potential dangers of cyberbullying at all levels, banning offensive words and boosting tolerance everywhere.
Numerous cases of suicide among young people reported worldwide show that cyberbullying is an issue of a large scale requiring the intrusion of the government, psychologists, and special anti-cyberbullying organizations. The growth of cyber harassment from its positive perspective of social purification from the weak ones explains the high rates of suicides among the victims. As the outcomes of cyberbullying from the financial perspective result in more meaningless deaths, its negative impact prevails. Cyberbullying needs elimination. For this reason, promoting tolerance, support, kindness, and empathy at schools will help eradicate cyberbullying at all levels and report abusive behavior immediately. Systematic work of the government and implementation of schooling policy towards cybersecurity and morale can strengthen the positive outlook of the teens.
Cognitive and affective empathy is a good way to understand both the offender and the victim. Boosting a positive environment based on mutual support, paying more attention to children by the adults as well as promoting the interest groups among the children can distract them from offending the others and direct the aggression towards kin feelings. Shared activities, support, care, and attention are the ways to overcome the evil feelings provoking the crime.