Schoolyards have long been home to bullies. Kids tended to give the mean kids a wide berth. Stay out of the line of sight and hopefully avoid being made the center of rough comments. But today, children and teens are finding more of their social interactions occurring online and the Internet offers no place to hide. Not only is the Internet unprotected territory, but the unkindness of the cyberbully has been given a megaphone of incomparable volume. In a moment, cyberbullies can send out a hurtful message to the veritable world.
Internet Cyberbullying By Teens
Cyberbullying is defined as making use of the cell phone or Internet to post harassing or hurtful messages. The problem has grown with the rise in Internet/cell phone use by teenagers. Since it is a relatively recent phenomenon, studies are still discovering much about the impact of cyberbullying.
A study of teens and cyberbullying conducted through the University of Duesto, Spain, has uncovered some disturbing facts about the practice. The study examined 845 teens ages 13 to 17. There were 498 female participants and 337 male participants in the study. Researchers found that 24 percent of the teens had been cyberbullied at least once. Another 15.9 percent of teens had been bullied twice and 8 percent had been cyberbullied three times.
The study also found that as with other kinds of bullying, the victims tend to turn around and give it out. In a significant number of instances, a teen is both a perpetrator and a victim of cyberbullying. But the researchers found that when a teen is bullied this way for half a year, the chances go up that he/she will start showing negative symptoms of the abuse.
Kids Who Abuse Substances – Many Times Are Victims Of Cyberbullying
Teens on the receiving end of cyber bullying face a greater chance of becoming depressed, abusing substances or turning to the Internet for self-soothing numbness. But here is where the researchers uncovered a vicious cycle. Kids who abuse substances or who show signs of depression tend to be victims of cyberbullying. It’s an ugly net of abuse.
With the rising popularity of social network sites among teens, the problem of cyberbullying has exploded. Altered pictures, rumors, embarrassing videos and threatening/painful messages can be sent out to the “world” in a moment. Because these messages can be posted anonymously, they are hard to trace or even block. The Internet is a veritable Wild West for teens where cruelty happens and often goes unpunished.
Parents Dealing With Cyberbullying
Teens trapped in the cycle of bullying-depression-bullying may not tell the adults in their lives. Adolescents are just learning to navigate social engagements and may be afraid to come forward. This is often the case with all kinds of bullying. Still, parents and health professionals should not rule out the possibility of bullying when teens begin to show symptoms of depression.