Bullying once was limited to schools and playgrounds, now is unfortunately can be a 24 hour phenomena, due to the internet access and social media sites. Unfortunately children, especially teens are being bullied more than ever before, and access to computers and smart phones are the tools that are used to commit these harmful acts.
Cyberbullying occurs is when someone repeatedly harasses, mistreats, or makes fun of another person online or while using cell phones or other electronic devices.
The researchers defined cyberbullying as an aggressive, intentional and repeated use of mobile phones, computers and other electronic equipment to harass victims who cannot easily defend themselves.
A new research study conducted in Finland evaluated the impact cyberbullying has on teenage victims and perpetrators by computer or cell phone found both are more likely to report psychiatric symptoms.
Dr. Andre Sourander of Turku University in Finland and colleagues surveyed 2,438 Finnish seventh- and ninth-grade adolescents. They evaluated the completed questionnaires and found six months prior to the survey, 4.8 percent of the participants were only victims of cyberbullying, 7.4 percent were cyberbullies only and 5.4 percent were both recipients and perpetrators of cyberbullying.
Other than being questioned about cyberbullying, they were also asked about substance use, traditional bullying behavior and psychosomatic symptoms, including headaches and abdominal pain.
The researchers discovered that victims of cyberbullying reported living in a house with one parent, perceived emotional, concentration and behavior difficulties; having trouble getting along with others; headaches and abdominal pain.
The researchers also found that cyberbullies themselves, reported emotional problems, concentration and behavior difficulties; trouble getting along with others, hyperactivity; conduct problems; infrequent helping behaviors, frequent smoking and drinking; headaches and not feeling safe in schools.
“The feeling of being unsafe is probably worse in cyberbullying compared with traditional bullying,” Dr. Andre Sourander of Turku University and co-authors wrote. “Traditional bullying typically occurs on school grounds, so victims are safe at least within their homes. With cyberbullying, victims are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
“There is a need to create cyberenvironments and supervision that provide clear and consistent norms for healthy cyberbehavior. Clinicians working in child and adolescent health services should be aware that cyberbullying is potentially traumatizing,” stated Sourander.
“Policy makers, educators, parents, and adolescents themselves should be aware of the potentially harmful effects of cyberbullying. Future research is needed on whether antibullying policies, materials, interventions, and mobile telephone and internet user guidelines are effective for reducing cyberbullying,” Sourander said.
Cyberbullying Statistics in the United States are even higher. According to I-Safe America, approximately 20% of the students in our sample report experiencing cyberbullying in their lifetimes. When asked about specific types of cyberbullying in the previous 30 days, mean or hurtful comments (13.7%) and rumors spread (12.9%) online continue to be among the most commonly-cited.
Seventeen percent of the sample reported being cyberbullied in one or more of the nine types reported, two or more times over the course of the previous 30 days. In the 2003-04 school year, i-SAFE America surveyed students from across the country on a new topic: Cyber Bullying. It is a topic that not many adults were talking about. It turns out to be a topic all too familiar with students.
Bullying is no longer about the strong picking on the weak in the schoolyard. The physical assault has been replaced by a 24 hour per day, seven days a week online bashing. Savvy students are using Instant Messaging, e-mails, chat rooms and websites they create to humiliate a peer. No longer can parents count on seeing the tell-tale physical signs of bullying—a black eye, bloody lip, torn clothes. But the damage done by cyber bullies is no less real, and can be infinitely more painful.
Cyber Bullying Statistics
- 42% of kids have been bullied while online. 1 in 4 have had it happen more than once.
- 35% of kids have been threatened online. Nearly 1 in 5 have had it happen more than once.
- 21% of kids have received mean or threatening e-mail or other messages.
- 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than 4 out of 10 say it has happened more than once.
- 53% of kids admit having said something mean or hurtful to another person online. More than 1 in 3 have done it more than once.
- 58% have not told their parents or an adult about something mean or hurtful that happened to them online.
Information Based on 2004 i-SAFE survey of 1,500 students grades 4-8
Cyber Bullying Tips
- Tell a trusted adult about the bullying, and keep telling until the adult takes action.
- Don’t open or read messages by cyber bullies.
- Tell your school if it is school related. Schools have a bullying solution in place.
- Don’t erase the messages—they may be needed to take action.
- Protect yourself—never agree to meet with the person or with anyone you meet online.
- If bullied through chat or instant messaging, the “bully” can often be blocked.
- If you are threatened with harm, inform the local police.
Archives of General Psychiatry