Cyberbullying is when one person or a group of people try to threaten or embarrass someone else using a mobile phone or the internet. Cyberbullying is just as harmful as bullying in the real world. If you see it happening, report it. Don’t ignore it.
Are you a part of it?
Those who take part in online bullying often use a group of friends to target their victims. They can ask others to add a comment to a photo on a blog, or forward something embarrassing onto another group of friends. Sometimes, these people don’t even realise they’re actually bullying someone.
What forms can it take?
There are lots of different types of cyberbullying. These are the main ones:
Sending emails that can be threatening or upsetting. Emails can be sent directly to a single target, or to a group of people to encourage them to become part of the bullying. These messages or ‘hate mails’ can include examples of racism, sexism and other types of prejudice. If someone sends you a message and you forward or laugh at it, you’re actually adding to the problem.
Instant messenger and chatrooms
Sending instant messenger and chatroom messages to friends or direct to a victim. Others can be invited into the bullying conversation, who then become part of it by laughing.
Social networking sites
Setting up profiles on social networking sites to make fun of someone. By visiting these pages or contributing to them, you become part of the problem and add to the feelings of unhappiness felt by the victim.
Sending humiliating and abusive text or video messages, as well as photo messages and phone calls over a mobile phone. This includes anonymous text messages over short distances using Bluetooth technology and sharing videos of physical attacks on individuals (happy slapping).
Games consoles allow players to chat online with anyone they find themselves matched with in a multi-player game. Sometimes cyber bullies abuse other players and use threats. They can also lock victims out of games, spread false rumours about someone or hack into someone’s account.
Some people send viruses or hacking programs to another person that can destroy their computers or delete personal information from their hard drive.
Abusing personal information
Many victims of cyberbullying have complained that they have seen personal photos, emails or blog postings posted where others could see them without their permission. Social networking sites make it a lot easier for web users to get hold of personal information and photos of people. They can also get hold of someone else’s messaging accounts and chat to people pretending to be the victim.
The effects of cyberbullying
Even though cyberbullying cannot physically hurt you, it can still leave you feeling mentally vulnerable and very upset. You can also feel scared, lonely and stressed and that there’s no way out.
Escaping cyberbullying can be very difficult. Because anyone can get access to a mobile phone or the internet almost anywhere, it can be tough for those on the receiving end to avoid it, even in the safety of their own home.
Why do cyberbullies do it?
There’s no simple answer for why some people choose to cause pain to others by bullying them. There are lots of possible reasons, but here are some common ones:
- it can be simply a case of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time and allowing themselves to be easily intimidated
- some people who cyberbully think that they won’t get caught if they do it on a mobile phone or on the internet
- the people who cyberbully are jealous, angry or want to have revenge on someone, often for no reason at all
- cyberbullies often think that getting their group of friends to laugh at someone makes them look cool or more popular
- some people also bully others as a form of entertainment or because they are bored and have too much time on their hands
- many do it for laughs or just to get a reaction
Bullying On Mobile Phones
This information is from the Directgov website. © Crown copyright
Receiving a rude text message or a threatening call on your mobile phone from a bully isn’t just upsetting. It can be a criminal offence. If you are being bullied on your mobile phone, don’t reply and let someone know as soon as possible.
How can you get bullied on a mobile phone?
Cyberbullying isn’t just something that takes place on the internet. You can also be cyberbullied if you get abusive calls and text messages on your mobile phone. These calls, text messages and voicemails can be really upsetting, and it is often hard to understand how the sender knows your mobile phone number.
If you think you are being bullied on your mobile phone, the most important thing is not to respond or get into an argument. Bullies are usually cowards, so showing a reaction is just giving them what they’re after. At the same time, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it and do nothing.
Types of mobile bullying
There are many ways that you can get bullied through your mobile phone.
Scary phone calls
Victims of mobile phone bullying can receive abusive phone calls from someone who uses threats of violence to scare them. Some bullies choose to stay silent on the other end of the phone, which is confusing and worrying for the person who answers the call.
Abusive text messages
People who bully sometimes send text messages that try to scare, upset or hurt someone on purpose.Getting a message like this can be frightening, especially if it is from someone you don’t know.
Offensive picture messages
You may also be worried about photos and images that you have been sent over your mobile phone. These could be pictures of you that have been taken without your knowledge. They could also be pictures that show you in situations that you would rather keep private.
Embarrassing or violent videos
Most mobile phones come with a video camera now, which means being filmed without knowing it can happen more often. If you’re being bullied over your mobile phone, you might:
- get videos of yourself that you didn’t know were being filmed
- see embarrassing mobile phone videos of yourself posted on video sharing websites like YouTube
- You may also have heard of ‘happy slapping’, where victims are physically assaulted and a video of the attack is then posted on the internet.
How to stop mobile phone bullying
Even though it’s a hassle, the best way to stop mobile phone bullying is to get another SIM card or change your mobile number. Once you have a new phone number, only give it out to members of your family and close friends. If you get a bullying text, save it in your inbox. You should also make a note of the time you received the message, and the sender’s details. Do not delete the message from your inbox. Even though you might want to, the police or your mobile phone company may need it if they investigate.
Don’t suffer in silence
If you are being targeted by mobile phone bullies, it’s important to let someone know. If you feel uncomfortable talking to a parent or a teacher, try another older relative or friend who you trust. They will be able to help you stop the bullying.
You should also report the bullying to your mobile phone company. They may be able to trace the person who is calling or texting you, even if they withhold their number. Mobile phone companies all deal with bullying differently, so contact the customer helpline to find out who to speak to.
The Police and mobile phone bullying
Making offensive calls is actually a criminal offence. Anyone who is found guilty could have to pay a large fine. They may also be given a six-month sentence. If you are being bullied over your mobile phone, don’t be afraid to report it to the police.