Cyber bullying is the act of using technology to threaten, scare, embarrass or target another person or a group of people. Cyberbullying has been reported in at least 37 percent of young people between the ages of twelve and seventeen, most commonly on Instagram. It is done with social media applications, on gaming platforms or messaging platforms on a mobile phone or laptop.
Cyber bullying is usually aimed at coercing, scaring, shaming and ridiculing the victims. Cyber bullying comes in many forms. It could be posting embarrassing pictures of someone online, sending people death threats, dropping hurtful comments on posts and impersonating someone else to send false information. Cyber bullying is considered a crime in many parts of the world. For example in Nigeria, it is an offense punishable by at least three years imprisonment with or without a fine of ten million naira.
Social media has given everyone a voice. The right to freedom of speech means that we can express ourselves in real life and on social media as we deem fit. People tend to filter what they say in real life because there are visible consequences of their actions and they may be in danger because of their words. Physical bullying takes guts which many people lack. However cyber bullying is very common because it provides an often faceless means of bullying people without being caught. Face to face bullying and cyber bulling can happen side by side, but cyber bulling is more traceable because there is evidence on digital media.
This leaves us to the question: Why do people become cyberbullies? There are many answers to that question. One reason why there are so many cyberbullies is that technology provides facelessness. Cyberbullies believe that they can carry out their activities without getting caught. Then there are also some bullies who seek popularity on social media by dragging other people down. They believe that it is the only way to stay popular. Another set of cyberbullies are people that have been bullied physically and online, so they bully others as a way to feel good. They feel it has been done to them, so why not do it to others? Some others cyber bully because of pressure from friends. Others are not aware of the consequences of cyberbullying and they bully people for a laugh. There is really no reason to be a cyber bully, as the consequences are negative for the individual, bully and society as a whole.
Cyberbullying leaves the victim with negative emotions such as fear, confusion and sadness. It could result in depression, self harming behavior and suicide. Students who experience bullying or cyberbullying are two times more likely to die from suicide. Cyberbullying also affects the academic performance of students involved, increasing the number of school dropouts. Many young people lose their self esteem and peace of mind because of these cyberbullies. If you find yourself being bullied online, you could block the bully. You could also take screenshots of the bullying and report to the police. Cyberbullies can be arrested and imprisoned for their bad behavior. They could get into trouble when they bully dangerous people and find their lives and the lives of their family members in danger. Cyberbullying affects the productivity of a nation adversely. Time that would have been used in productive activity is spent wastefully by citizens online, bullying people. Resources that would have been used in other sectors of the health sector are spent in the suicide prevention unit. Self harming youths may not be able to contribute to the growth of their nation. A country with many cyberbullies has a bad image.
Cyberbullying is borne out of many negative factors and by eliminating these factors, we can end cyberbullying. If we try to end physical bullying, resist negative peer pressure and provide some checks and balances for social media platforms, cyberbullying will reduce in our country. If you are being bullied online, report the bullies and block them. If you see any cyberbullying on your timeline, block the bully. Report their numbers and social media accounts. If you have been bullying people online, stop it. Don’t be the reason someone is depressed, it is not funny. Let us do better and put an end to cyberbullying in our world.