Teens, preteens or children get humiliated, harassed, tormented, embarrassed or targeted by other people online. This is what is known as the cyber bullying. It must have a minor on one side or on both sides. This term is different when adults are involved, whereby the name changes from cyber bullying to cyber stalking or cyber-harassment(Gumbus & Meglich, 2013). Cyber bullying affected children negatively and some are pushed to a level where they end up committing ham to themselves.
Cyber bullying is compared to the traditional harassments and discrimination in real times. Cyber bullying and adult cyber harassment affect women more than men. The cyber bullies use threatening and demeaning behavior that makes women feel unsafe and threatened to be online. Women who are subjected to such experiences would prefer to stay offline or to at least reduce their online presence. This could affect the career negatively and minimize their socialization with others. This paper looks at some of the ways in which cyber bullying has affected the modern generation in a negative way.
Web lining refers to the activity of collecting people’s information with an aim of using that information to sell them something or to check on their suitability for any particular service. The term was coined from redlining, which referred to the failure by insurers, banks and other service providers to offer service to people who came from the inner city. This is a place that was regarded as danger zone for any business that wants to thrive. The residents were denied loans generally, irrespective of salary level. Web lining does not depend on the geographical map, but uses the collected information to determine how long a person lasts online, which places do the browse when online, what do they eat and what they buy.
Again, there is no law that prohibits companies from mining information of online users and then selling them to people who need them. Many people are against this practice because it is an attack of privacy. People collect information about an individual without their permission, then sell the information to the people who pay them for the service. The owner of the information gets nothing and the information is used to harass or invade their online space.
Web lining leads to categorizing of people into groups. It also leads to discrimination as people would miss out on some important information such as the increased services, new favorable interest rates, and preferential treatments yet they need these things in their lives. Web lining has led to a situation whereby online users are denied opportunities online database. A person who applies for an insurance against a specific disease could be denied the service because web search shows that they suffer from the disease.
What one searches online is associated with him and then they are grouped into the same group. The online activity of a person then becomes an important factor considered by insurance companies before making their decisions on the person’s complimentary credit card rates and their insurability. When a person lands in undesirable category, they would be denied bank loans or have their insurance application based on assumptions of their future behavior. The decision-makers uses prediction on how profitable an individual would be to an organization based on the characteristics of a group and not of the individual. Decisions based on this criterion do not consider people as individuals, but instead uses the general information of a group. The practice is unjust and unfair to individuals who are affected negatively by such decisions
The internet was regarded as the place that gives a voice to the powerless and advocate for democratic values. When companies deny a segment of the population the services just because they have been predicted to have no value as other groups then the barriers and inequalities of the redlining are back in the society, even though redlining has been illegalized.
The decision by companies to depend on questionable information collected by profit oriented entities is risky because they are not able to prove the validity and the quality of the information concerning individuals. The information could be completely irrelevant or may have been mined from unreliable source that depends on worthless assumption to group people. The sold information is never checked for appropriateness or accuracy and leads to individualism being penalized not for their actual behaviors, but for their predicted behaviors.
Effects of Cyber Bullying
All the discrimination is not the worst part about web lining, it becomes worse when people use the collected information to harass or bully others. In this age of hackers, the stored information could be access by unauthorized people who could make it public for everyone to see. The sensitive information such as sexual orientation, health status or lifestyle could be used to harass owners of that information.
Hackers or any technological mishap could make sensitive information open to the world and only the victims would suffer and not the information collectors. The victims would go through stressful situations, more than the traditional harassment cases, their photos may appear in all online platforms with nowhere to hide their face. In physical world it is easier to hide from the person who is stressing you but not when things happen online and the victim has online presence.
Other information are related to people’s political stands and race. When such information land on the wrongs hands, their owners could be subjected to worst forms of stereotyping, out casting and prejudice. Web lining imposes a barrier on a person’s upward mobility as it block them from various opportunities around them. When people’s information is used against then the internet loses its meaning to many people. Information should never be generalized, and most importantly, selling of a person’s information without their consent should be outlawed
The number of bullying reported by children offline has greatly reduced while the number of cyber bullying has been on the increase. The cyber bullies are not deterred by anything from carrying out the malicious behaviors on others. In the physical world, children could be safe when they are in a room full of people but online bullying occurs even when a person shares a cyber space with other people. It could also be impossible to identify who the aggressor is while they would have good knowledge of their victim.
The aggressor may even be someone who is really close to their victims. An aggressor could just send a humiliating image or a hurtful message to thousands of people online then sit back and enjoy the cruel comments from people(Tokunaga, 2010). The shared information may be shameful but the aggressor would never consider the chances of the information being seen by family members, spouses, colleagues and friends of their victims. There are a number of teenagers who have gone through embarrassing experiences because of something about them leaked to members of the public.
Students whose nude pictures have found their way into the public domain could testify what it really mean to be cyber bullying victim. The nude pictures would be shared in a public platform and those who know them would then stalk them online and offline. A story of Hope witsell is a good example of how cyber bullying to could push their victims to commit suicide. Hope sent her topless picture to her boyfriend, but another schoolgirl got a copy of the picture. She had then shared it with fellow school mates at Shields middle school. The torment that Hope had gone through pushed her to her death, once gain confirming the evil of cyber bullying.
In the traditional bullying setting, adult supervision minimized the chances of bullies tormenting their victims. In cyber bullying, there is no supervision and the bully just have to hit the “send” button and the damage is already done. The chat rooms could be monitored by their administrators; it is not so with private chats between two people. It may be argued that escaping cyber bullying is easy because one just need to log off and get rid of their gadgets. In the technology driven world, that would be very difficult as everything a person does seems to have them access internet at some point.
The students have to do their research online, engage in online discussion forums and socialize with their colleagues when they are not in school. Teachers have to use technology to access online teaching resources and to advance their knowledge in particular subjects. Albin explains that it is much harder to prevent and protect children from cyber bullies because of the complexity of the modern technology. A parent may put restrictions on the user of internet at home, but children could still access the internet through their phones(Albin, 2012). This means that parents could protect them from cyber bullies and children make it easier for the bullies when they fail to report such cases to the parents
A research carried out by Kowalski and Limber (2012), established that even though the traditional bullying and cyber bullying might be different, they have the same effect on the victims academic performance. A distressed student would not concentrate in school, they lag behind in their studies and they lose their self esteem. When people embarrass or torment a student at school or on their way to and from school, they start skipping school. Absenteeism from school is one of the results of bullying from school mates and community members. When a child’s privacy is attacked, they get depressed and the degree of depression depends on the degree and the frequency of the attacks. Cyber bullying has made it easier for people to torment others as many times as they want and in different forms within a short period of time.
Cyber bullying has given more advantage to men because they become more dominant online as compared to women.
The world is technologically driven and when women are forced to be offline because of the harassments and bullying then huge damage is done to the gender equality. Unfortunately, there is not clear law that protect victims from cyber bullying and the few women who managed to report instances of cyber bullying are either not taken seriously or regarded as victims of online pranks. A study carried out by Beckman et al. (2013) showed that even though women are the main victims of cyber bullying, they also make the largest number of cyber bullies. The study carried out in Sweden shows that when it comes to cyber bullying, gender roles have relatively changed as compared to the traditional bullying. The study also found out that traditional bullying is still prevalent among the adolescents.
The degree to which one gender can get involved in cyber bullying is also affected by their access to technology devices(Bonanno & Hymel, 2013). In community where girls are not allowed to access internet all the time would have few female cyber bullies compared to liberal communities. In Sweden, and many other developed countries, boys and girls access internet equally and the girls’ involvement in cyber bullying proves the fact that they are the main aggressors as well as the victims. In most cases, girls torment their fellow ladies than boys do to fellow men or girls. Both genders are involved in the same online activities and use the same communication channels but girls like sharing more intimate stuff and gossip a lot with their friends.
Sharing of things between girlfriends and gossiping promotes the spread of cyber bulling contents making them to spread faster. The end result is an intense degree of torment on the victim. According to Beckman et al., girls appear to be more active online than boys, they are always engaged in chartrooms and social networking sites such as facebook.
This makes them more vulnerable to cyber harassment more than boys. Internet consumption and peer victimization are directly linked and the upper the consumption, the advanced the risk of victimization(Beckman et al., 2013). Vulnerability of the girls and their higher number of bullies mean that they are highly involved in cyber bullying than boys. The ways boys and girls use various online sites are different and this contributes the difference in the involvement in cyber bullying.
Comparison of Cyber Bullying and Traditional Bullying
The traditional bullying led to cases of depressed children in schools and homes. It was considered a vice in the society and strategies were implemented to control and prevent it. The close supervisions also reduced to control the chances of traditional bullying. Cyber bullying is regarded as being worse than the traditional bullying. When it happens, the torments, harassments and humiliations come from multiple sources(Wang et al., 2011). The victim may not have a space of their own anymore, they do not even know when the next attack would be and from whom. The victims are always afraid and tend to stay away from the general public, from friends and even from family members. Its effects are worse than those of traditional bullying. The frequency of the attacks are numerous and may drive a person crazy within a short period of time.
Public bullying in both cases is more controlled in traditional bullying than in cyber harassment. In cyber bullying, the interactions are les controllable as compared to traditional bullying. Private bullying in cyber bullying is less likely to be known by the third parties unless the victims open up about the issue. In traditional bullying, the negative events could be controlled easily to make the situation less traumatizing to the victim but not in cyber bullying. Once the bully has hit the send button then there is nothing that could be done to speedily correct the situation. The victims become helpless and are left at the mercy of rude online audience who are ever ready to comment and share with their friends. The victims develop depressive symptoms faster than in the traditional bullying scenarios.
Another reason than why cyber bullying hits victims harder than the traditional bullying is the issue of anonymous aggressors. When people are bullied by people they do not know, they tend to develop fear, insecurity and frustration among other negative emotions. According to Sticca and Perren(2012),anonymity of the aggressor plays a huge role towards driving the victims to depressed status, even more than the medium used.
The experience is very severe because a person is humiliated or threatened by people she does not know. The victims realize that the bully could be anyone, even their close friends. In traditional bullying, the cycle of potential aggressors is small and one could easily guess. The fact that the messages could be received at any time makes the victims to be in constant state of helplessness and fear(Kowalski & Limber, 2012). Anonymity denies the victim any chance of having the situation in control making the victim to feel helpless and starts to develop depressive symptoms.
A humiliating picture posted on a school notice-board or in the blackboard is easier to remove than a picture posted on facebook. The image would spread faster and reach huge audience in on facebook than in notice board or blackboard. This study therefore, confirms that cyber bullying is worse than the traditional bullying.
Connection between Cyber Bullying and Traditional Bullying
Research carried by Gradinger et al.,(2009), found out that in traditional bullying, the problem was never with the victims but depended much on the aggressive and delinquent behavior of the bullies. The victims do not have to do anything to qualify for bullying but the bullies could just pick on anyone and enjoy bullying them. In cyber bullying, in most cases, the bullies uses something that has been posted online by the victim or leaked by online by a third party. The study also revealed that most cyber bullies have gone through bullying experience in their lives; either traditional or cyber bullying.
The level of aggression was found to be higher among those who have bullied others in both traditional and cyber bullying. A research carried out by Sara and Heidi(2016), established that in bullying cases, perpetration and victimization of cyber bullying increases social anxiety among the victims. Continuous maltreatment could result in long-term anxiety disorder(Pabian & Vandebosch, 2016). A young adult who is subjected to cyber bullying is likely to have depressive symptoms and develop anxiety disorder.
The effects of cyber bulling are much worse than the physical and mental effects of the traditional bullying. The negatives effects of cyber bullying spread faster and goes wider than the traditional bullying making the depressive experience more severe leading to increased number of depression, anxiety and suicides among the among the adolescents.
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Tokunaga, R. S. (2010). Following you home from school: A critical review and synthesis of research on cyberbullying victimization. Computers in human behavior, 26(3), 277-287.
Wang, J., Nansel, T. R., & Iannotti, R. J. (2011). Cyber and traditional bullying: Differential association with depression. Journal of adolescent health, 48(4), 415-417.
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