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Since the late 1990s, cyberspace has gifted its 3.6 billion users with a plethora of platforms to virtually socialise in. This virtual world can benefit one’s social life by maintaining friendships and making new ones, whilst offering opportunities for accessing support networks, communities and educational purposes opportunities.

 

However, on the flip side, a by-product of social media is harassment and cyberbullying and as social media continues to advance, the opportunity for perpetrators to bully people online is also expanding. Some of the effects of cyberbullying include: low self-esteem, self-blame, social anxiety, depression, poor concentration, suicidal thoughts and suicide itself. These are amplified due to technology, bestowing the aggressor with the means to relentlessly attack their victims, almost without pause. Anyone of any age can be cyberbullied but you’re more likely to be bullied during your time in secondary school.

 

Before social media, bullying took place in person. However, the internet has opened up a warren, that allows the bully to penetrate into the lives of victims, without the barrier of time and physical distance. Hence, we now differentiate between traditional bullying and cyberbullying. Meaning that previous research about traditional bullying is not necessarily relevant and applicable to cyberbullying, as was once thought. Therefore, research into cyberbullying is in its infancy and needs to catch up fast if we are to understand its effects and in doing so, adding weight and power to the argument for better protection for online users.

 

Cyber Bully image

 

What to do if you or someone you know is being cyberbullied?

Research suggests that if you are able to talk about the bullying to family, friends or someone in your community or school, then you will feel better and more resilient. However you may prefer to offload your thoughts and feelings to a trained professional for free and in confidence:  

Cyber bully helpline

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