In the same way that bullying occurs in physical places like schools, or the streets, cyberbullying occurs in the digital environment. A phenomenon that seeks to intimidate, annoy, and humiliate victims and, in this case, uses technological tools to do so.
It is important to mention that this abuse is usually reiterative and can happen in parallel in physical spaces and in digital environments, with the aggravating factor that, in the digital world, the contents can go viral and whoever suffers it, is exposed to be constantly revictimized.
Although there are many expressions of this type of abuse, among the most frequent we find:
– Spreading lies.
– Posting embarrassing photographs or videos.
– Sending hurtful, abusive, or threatening messages, images, or videos.
– Impersonating someone, sending aggressive messages in that person’s name, or through fake accounts.
– Intentionally excluding a person from an online group.
While sometimes the boundary between a joke and the manifestations of cyberbullying is difficult to elucidate, if you feel that it is very repetitive and that rather than fun, it is something that is hurting you deeply, it is certainly cyberbullying and it is important to take action to make it stop.
Some figures on cyberbullying
According to a study conducted by UNESCO, in Latin America, the countries where cyberbullying occurs most frequently are Argentina, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Chile. With 80% of cyberbullying victims being girls, while in the case of face-to-face bullying 60% of victims are boys. Smartphones and the Whatsapp application are the most used medium (74.3 %), and the remaining 25 % use Instagram, Twitter, Zoom, and Telegram.
How does cyberbullying affect children?
For victims of cyberbullying, this is not something that happens to them in a specific space, they have the feeling that it is something that haunts them, even when they are at home, and it is a situation from which they apparently cannot get out. And it can affect them in different ways:
– Mentally: the victim feels worried, ashamed, scared, and stupid.
– Emotionally: the victim feels ashamed and loses interest in everything they used to like.
– Physically: the victim feels tired, has sleeping and eating disorders, and suffers from stomach and headaches.
Many cases of cyberbullying have had very serious, even fatal, repercussions for their victims. This is why it is important to pay due attention to it so that the victim can overcome it and regain confidence.
What are the signs that someone is being cyberbullied?
It is essential that parents and caregivers are always attentive to the signs or behavioral changes that children show when they are victims of cyberbullying. Don’t forget that early detection can save lives. Below, you will find several red flags:
- Suspicion with the content and information they post on social networks. They hide when they connect to the Internet.
- Isolation from friends and family. They stop hanging out with people they used to enjoy spending time with.
- Nervous responses and mood swings. In an unexplained way, they go from sadness to indifference towards what they used to like, they present aggressive reactions, among others.
- They avoid going to school. They express symptoms of illness in order not to attend classes. In addition, their academic performance is affected.
- Drastic physical changes. They present changes in their body language and may even present self-harm.
- Deterioration in social relationships. They may even close their social network accounts.
- Change in their habits. They refuse to participate in activities they used to enjoy and change their eating habits.
- Sleep disorders. They present insomnia or nightmares.
You may also be interested in: Know 8 types of cyber-violence and how to prevent it.
What to do if you are a victim of cyberbullying?
If you feel that you are a victim of cyberbullying, it is important that you seek help to prevent the situation from prolonging over time and causing you deeper pain than you are already feeling. Keep the following recommendations in mind:
– Avoid responding and retaliating. The stalker will always look for a reaction from the victim. Avoid getting carried away by angry feelings.
– Block or report the harasser. This way, you can avoid receiving messages from the harasser and, if you use the platform’s policies, you can report situations that may violate people.
– Save the harassing messages. Collect screenshots, photos, videos, chats, and messages that may serve as evidence of cyberbullying.
– Reach out to a trusted adult. Find a person who listens to you, believes you, and may have the skills to help you resolve the situation.
Even if you feel that your situation is very distressing and that you can’t get out of it, it is important to know that you can always take action so that this does not continue to happen with you or with other people. Take a good look around you and find people you trust who can give you support.
If you think you are a victim of some kind of abuse, remember that in the #YoDigoNoMás Movement, you can find information and resources to learn how to deal with this type of abuse in the best way, and you can also join the movement to help it continue to grow.