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What does cyberbullying - and its effects - look like?

Our children are growing up in a very different environment than previous generations, thanks in large part to technology. They have phones with social media accounts and cameras to document everything they do; they can get in touch with anyone; they can mask their identity; they can even alter digital content.

These capabilities may be exciting, but they can also make it extremely easy for young people to cyberbully each other.

Examples of cyberbullying

Knowing what to look for can make it easier for parents to protect their kids. Some common examples of cyberbullying include:

  • Sharing private or illicit pictures of someone to cause embarrassment
  • Making threats via text message or direct messages
  • Creating a "sockpuppet" or pretending to be someone else online to get the person to reveal private or sensitive details about themselves to share with others
  • Setting up web pages or accounts to post mean, hurtful things about a person
  • Flooding a person's phone and accounts with nasty messages, threats and accusations
  • Encouraging a person to hurt themselves through suicide or self-harm

How it affects victims

It is crucial to identify acts of cyberbullying and take appropriate action because cyberbullying can take a severe toll on victims. For some, it leads to:

  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor performance in school
  • Anxiety
  • Humiliation
  • Self-harm, including dangerous diets, drastic changes to appearance and deliberately causing injuries
  • Suicide attempts

These consequences of bullying do not go away overnight; some people carry the scars of childhood bullying well into adulthood.

Taking these effects seriously is vital, especially for parties wishing to hold bullies accountable for damages caused by their behaviors.

Children are not the only victims

While many people assume cyberbullying only affects kids and teenagers, the fact is that anyone can experience online bullying. Adults can suffer pain and humiliation resulting from harassment, "revenge porn" and other acts designed to inflict harm.

Whether a person is bullied as an adult or child, they can experience devastating injuries and losses. As such, knowing what cyberbullying is and the type of damage it can do can be essential to stopping it and holding bullies responsible.

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