Cyberbullying is using the Internet, cell phones, video game systems, or other technology to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person. It is also defined as acts of aggression through computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices” (Jackson & Cohen, 2012).
Different Forms of Cyber Bullying
Generally, cyber bullying can be classified under two categories, namely ‘Direct Attack’ and ‘By Proxy’ (WiredKids, Inc., n.d.).
‘Direct Attack’ refers to instances of cyber attacks targeted directly at the victims and ‘By Proxy’ refers to manipulating others to cyber bully the victims with or without the accomplice’s knowledge.
(Instances of cyber-attacks targeted directly at the victims)
(Manipulating others to cyber bully the victims)
Repeatedly sending threatening messages, highly intimidating or engaging in other online activities that make a person fear for his or her safety.
Intentionally excluding others from an online group.
Online “fighting” by posting negative messages with angry and / or vulgar language on message boards such as those on gaming sites or blogs.
Repeatedly sending offensive, rude and insulting messages to someone via sms, message board or social media account.
Outing & Trickery
Sharing someone’s secrets or embarrassing information, and / or tricking someone into revealing secrets or embarrassing information about themselves.
Distributing information about another that is derogatory and untrue. Some examples include posting of such information or digitally altered photos and sending it to others such as Happy Slapping and defacing of an image.
Breaking into another person’s e-mail account, social networking site to send vicious or embarrassing materials or messages to others by posing as the person.
Using cruel gossip or rumors to damage someone’s reputation or friendship with others.
Traditional Bullying vs Cyber Bullying
Both traditional and cyber bullying has the same definition which comprises of Power imbalance, intention to hurt and repetition.
Regardless of whether it is online or offline, the messages or words passed between the cyber bully and the victim are designed to intentionally embarrass and humiliate or socially exclude the victim. Hence, they are considered aggressive in nature.
The nature of the power imbalance in cyber bullying is not exactly similar to that in traditional bullying. Power, in traditional bullying, might be physical (stature) or social (competency or popularity), while online power may simply stem from proficiency in internet usage (Hinduja & Patchin, 2006). Therefore, bullies in traditional bullying may end up being victimised in the online world and victims from traditional bullying can be bullies online. Nevertheless, it is clear that a power imbalance still exists.
Both types of bullying are repetitive in nature. Messages with the intention to hurt or harm are delivered over and over again. Cyber bullying occurs when such messages are sent many times over the Internet or when one posts a negative message about another person online, resulting in the message being viewed by many others.
Cyber bullying is more impactful as compared to traditional bullying as the bully can attack the victim at any time of the day. It can be 24/7. Perpetuators tend to have some degree of technological expertise (Smith K, 2014).
Cyber bullying is primarily indirect rather than face – to – face. A perpetuator may try to hide from their identity and with this anonymity, perpetuators tend to be more aggressive and harsh with their behavior.
Many of the cyber victims do not know who the bullies are.
Perpetuators do not usually get to see the victims’ reaction thus making cyber bullying so much easier as they do not have the opportunity to emphatise or feel remorseful.
Cyber victims are less likely to report as they would fear that their electronic devices might be confiscated or they fear embarrassment when the incident surface.
Bystanders in a cyber bullying incident is much more complex as compared to bystanders in a traditional bullying which will result in greater impact as well as lesser empathy as the bystanders are unable to see the victims’ emotions behind the screen thus more likely to join in. cyber bullying tend to reach out to a larger audience as compared to traditional bullying.
Comparing Cyber bullies and Traditional Bullies
According to Barbara Coloroso (2002), all bullies have certain traits in common.
Traits of Bullies
- Like to dominate other people and use other people to get what they want
- Lack empathy
- Refuse to accept
- responsibility for their actions
- Crave for attention