The term “cyberbullying” refers to any form of harassment carried out using digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying is the act of sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about another person online. This content includes revealing personal or private information, with the goal of making the victim feel embarrassed or humiliated by it. Cyberbullying commonly occurs in:
- social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok;
- SMS and mobile messaging apps (WhatsApp);
- instant messaging, direct messaging, and online chatting over the internet;
- reddit, and other online forums, chat rooms; and
- online gaming communities.
Cyberbullying can yield to a wide range of negative repercussions, affecting both emotional and physical wellbeing. The victims often feel constantly attacked on a psychological level even when at home, with detrimental effects on their mental health. The repercussions of cyberbullying can vary from the worsening of one’s mental health, to the loss of self-confidence, a constant feeling of fear, or even loss of sleep which can, in turn, cause an array of further physical health issues. Social isolation is also a common consequence of cyberbullying, since victims might be reluctant to go to school or other public places where their online-bullies may be present.
Moreover, due to fear of being further ridiculed or harassed by others, people may be hesitant to speak up or try to resolve issues. Fortunately, cyberbullying leaves digital tracks, which facilitates catching bullies. However, it is important to be able to distinguish between harmless jokes, and direct cyberbullying before you report it to a local helpline. Some examples include:
- sharing embarrassing images and videos about someone;
- sending images, messages, or videos that are harmful, abusive, or offensive; and
- falsely claiming to be someone and sending offensive messages to others on their behalf.