What is cyberbullying?
Adolescents have been bullying each other for many generations. The latest generation has been able to utilize technology to expand the level and harm associated with bullying. This phenomenon is being referred to as cyberbullying.
“Cyber” is a prefix meaning of or related to the computer. “Bullying” commonly refers to acts of aggressive behavior that cause physical or psychological harm or discomfort to another person. Such aggressive behavior may directly target a specific person or group of people or it may be more indirect, such as spreading rumors or lies about the targeted person or group. Cyberbullying, then, is defined as the willful use of computers or computerized machines as tools to intentionally and repeatedly cause harm or discomfort through verbal or relational aggression that target a specific person or group of people.
Cyberbullying is when a child, preteen, or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed, or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, mobile phones, interactive and digital technologies. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at the least instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it is called cyberharrassment or cyberstalking. Adult cyberharrassment or cyberstalking is never referred to as cyberbullying.
The methods used are limited only by the child’s imagination and access to technology. The cyberbully one minute may become the victim the next moment. The children often change roles, going back and forth from victim to bully. Children have taken cyberbullying so far that it has resulted in killing each other and suicides after being involved in a cyberbullying incident.
Cyberbullying is usually not a one time communication, unless it involves a death threat or a credible threat of serious bodily harm. Cyberbullying may arise to the level of a misdemeanor cyberharassment charge, or if the child is young enough may result in the charge of juvenile delinquency. Most of the time the cyberbullying does not go to that extreme, at times parents will often try to pursue criminal charges.