Today kids are online more than ever. They use the Internet not only to research material for school, but to socialize with friends and family members. In fact, emailing and chatting are some of the most common online activities for kids. But just like any other social activity, the opportunity for bullying exists.
When a young person uses the Internet or technology to harass, threaten, embarrass or target another person, this person is called a cyberbully. Typically, cyberbullying involves tweens and teens. If an adult is involved, it is considered cyber-harassment or cyberstalking. Here are five of the most common methods of cyberbullying.
Using text messaging, instant messaging and email to harass, threaten or embarrass the target. Posting rumors, threats or embarrassing information on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Engaging in “warning wars.” (Many Internet Service Providers offer a way to report a user who is saying something inappropriate. Kids use the “warn” button as a way to get the victim in trouble or kicked offline.) Participating in text wars or text attacks, which occur when bullies gang up on the victim and send thousands of texts. These attacks not only cause emotional distress but create a large cell phone bill. Impersonating Someone
Developing a screen name that is similar to the victim’s screen name and then posting rude or hurtful remarks while pretending to be the victim. Stealing the victim’s password and chatting with other people while pretending to be the victim. The bully will say mean things that offend and anger the victim’s friends or acquaintances. Changing the target’s online profile to include sexual, racist or other inappropriate things. Setting up an account on a social networking site and posing as the victim while saying mean, hurtful or offensive things online. Actual photos of the victim may be used to make the account look authentic. Posing as the victim and posting in chat rooms of known child molesters or hate groups. The bully may even provide the victim’s personal information encouraging the groups to contact the victim. Using Photographs
Taking nude or degrading pictures of the victim in a locker room, a bathroom or dressing room without his or her permission. Threatening to share embarrassing photos as a way of controlling or blackmailing the victim. Sending mass emails or text messages that include nude or degrading photos of the victim. This behavior is often called “sexting,” and once the photos are sent, there is no way to control it. The photos can be distributed to hundreds of people within just a few hours. Posting nude pictures on photo sharing sites for anyone on the Internet to view and download. Creating Websites, Blogs, Polls and More
Developing a website with information that is humiliating, embarrassing or insulting for the victim. Spreading rumors, lies or gossip about the victim online through websites or blogs. Posting the victim’s personal information and pictures on a website, which puts the victim in danger of being contacted by predators. Creating a blog about the victim that is embarrassing, insulting or humiliating. Using information that was shared in confidence and making it public. Conducting an Internet poll about the victim. Questions in the poll may vary including everything from who is ugly and who smells to who is dumb and who is fat. Posting rude, mean or insulting comments about the victim via the chat option of online gaming sites. Sending viruses, spyware or hacking programs to the victim in order to spy on the victim or control his or her computer remotely. Participating in “Happy-Slapping”
Using a camera phone to videotape a bullying incident, which may include one or more kids slapping, hitting, kicking or punching the victim. Downloading the videotaped bullying incident and posting it to YouTube in order to allow a larger audience to view the incident. Sharing a videotaped bullying incident via mass e-mail or text messaging to humiliate and embarrass the victim.