Everyone knows that a bully is a big kid with a backwards cap who patrols the playground and stalks the halls, exchanging bruises for milk money. Bullies hit and kick and poke and prod, and physically torment their victims. But what about cyber bullying? Well, that’s just sticks and stones. You can simply turn off your computer, or ignore cyber bullies, right?
We pay attention to physical bullying because it’s easy to see the effects. We know that a bruised arm or a scraped knee hurts, and so take that type of physical bullying seriously. However, it’s easy to overlook something like cyber bullying. Bullying doesn’t stop at physical harm. Bullying is any unwanted aggressive behavior that causes physical, emotional, or psychological harm or distress.
The effects of bullying
There are many negative effects of bullying besides physical harm. Bullying can impede a child’s learning in school, and has been linked with mental health issues, substance abuse, and suicide.
Bully victims are more likely to
- Experience depression
- Experience anxiety
- Have difficulty sleeping or eating
- Experience physical or mental health issues
- Struggle academically
But it’s not just bully victims who suffer from bullying.
Those who bully others are more likely to
- Abuse drugs and alcohol later in life
- Engage in risky or dangerous behaviors
- Continue physical or mental abuse towards partners or children later in life
What is cyber bullying?
Cyber bullying – sometimes called electronic aggression – is bullying that happens though text, email, chat room, social media, or any other electronic medium. Again, it’s sometimes easy to disregard this type of harassment, but cyber bullying can have a negative effect on a child. Even though the bullying occurs in a virtual space, the impact is very real.
The Internet continues to become an integral part of our everyday lives, and many social interactions take place in an electronic space. This level of connectivity can lead to positive friendships, but there’s also the potential for aggressive behavior. Bullying can come from an anonymous person that you’ve never met before, or it can come from your local neighborhood bully.
Why is cyber bullying a big deal?
Children and adolescents can threaten, harass, or embarrass others through social media, text, or other electronic mediums. Although this does not always result in physical harm, it often results in emotional distress.
Cyber bullying goes beyond the playground, halls, or classroom. It can follow children home, and it can be felt everywhere. This is one of the biggest concerns with cyber bullying. Because of electronic aggression, children may no longer get a break from bullying. This type of bullying is in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is just as real and as harmful as physical bullying in schools or on the playground.