6 Ways the Internet Has Changed Bullying

Discover why cyberbullying is harder to deal with than traditional bullying

two girls using Internet

The Internet has changed bullying. It has made it both harder to escape and harder to identify. It also has made bullies out of some people who would not otherwise consider bullying, especially when it comes to public shaming. What’s more, consequences of bullying and shaming are often unseen online. For this reason, people fail to see that they are doing anything wrong online when they hurt other people.

Here are the top six ways the Internet has changed bullying and why cyberbullying is harder to respond to and cope with than traditional bullying.

The Internet has made bullying harder to escape. Before the Internet, bullying ended when the child was no longer at school or on the bus. Once the child was at home, they could relax a little and forget about the bullying. But now, the Internet has made it so there is no escape from bullying. For instance, kids who are cyberbullied are bombarded with notifications on their smartphones. They also see the cruel messages every time they log into a social media account or check their e-mails.  And although bullying may not be any more prevalent than it was in years past, getting away from the bullying has become more difficult.

The Internet has made bullying harder to detect. When someone cyberbullies online, it can sometimes be hard to determine who is doing the actual bullying.

For instance, people can post under fake names and phony accounts. They also may impersonate someone else. Complete strangers may even get in on the act if a video or post goes viral. Determining who is doing the cyberbulling and getting it to stop can be a real challenge. Even reporting cyberbullying to the proper authorities may not make the bullying cease.

The Internet has increased the magnitude of the consequences of bullying. Because cyberbullying is often inescapable, victims of bullying often suffer higher levels of mental strain than those subjected to more traditional forms of bullying. Additionally, there are some connections between cyberbullying and suicide as well as cyberbullying and depression. Even though cyberbullying may not directly cause suicide, it does increase the risk in people already predisposed to considering ending their lives. There are countless stories of young people who were cyberbullied and later committed suicide, including Amanda Todd, Hannah Smith and countless others.

The Internet gives people a new vehicle for public shaming. In recent years, there has been a rise in public shaming, in which people on the Internet unite in outrage on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and other online entities over what someone has said or done. Some of the more notable cases of public shaming include Monica Lewinsky and Justine Sacco. People who participate in the public shaming often feel that their abusive words and actions are justified. And more importantly, they feel the recipient deserves the poor treatment because of their poor choices.

People who publicly shame others believe they are teaching someone a lesson and that the victims of bullying need to be called out and corrected.

On the Internet, bullies tend to have more courage and less empathy. For instance, many cyberbullies demonstrate a lack of insight into their behavior as well as a lack of self-awareness. Instead, they sometimes see themselves a righteous crusaders because they believe the targets deserve what they are getting. What’s more, when cyberbullies are behind a screen, they cannot see how their words, photos, posts and actions online are affecting the other person.

The only perspective they see is their own. The same is true for bystanders to cyberbullying. They are often disengaged and will do nothing to help a victim.

The Internet has created allowed people to become bullies that would not otherwise bully. Because the Internet often feels anonymous and kids can sit comfortably behind a screen, kids who would not normally bully engage in cyberbullying. They often say things about other people or to other people that they would never dream of saying in person. Additionally, they often feel that they will never get caught or reprimanded for what they are doing.

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