Cyberbullying is used as an umbrella word to describe different forms of online abuse, including revenge porn, reputation attacks, doxing, and harassment. To constitute any form of cyberbullying, perpetrators use technological advancements like cellphones, consoles, computers, or any other device that can access the internet in order to abuse, harass, and stalk other individuals.
With the increased used of social media, there have also been more cases of cyberbullying.
People say bad things to one another, and anonymity has somehow made it worse. Plus, people get criticized mercilessly for their opinions or behaviour on social media, and mostly, these critiques are personal. If nothing is done to prevent it or stop it, cyberbullying will remain on the rise and affect people’s mental health.
The psychological impacts of cyberbullying might be just as damaging as the physical ones. Cyberbullying victims can experience a wide range of negative emotions, including embarrassment, fear, anger, and sadness.
If these emotions are not controlled or dealt with on time, they might result in drastic negative effects on mental health. Some of the common mental health issues one can experience include:
Elevated anxiety and stress levels
Cyberbullying victims can experience unhealthy stress and high level of anxiety. Such victims don’t just deal with a lot of anxious thoughts. They may also deal with physical signs of stress and anxiety, such as panic attacks, trembling, sweating, and racing heart rate.
Increased risks of depression
Similar to every form of depression, cyberbullying can disrupt victims’ mental health. As per the Scientific American reports, traditional bullying in the teenage years can increase the risks of depression, and its impacts might be worse or more harmful than child abuse. The same reports also show that there is a close connection between an increased risk of depression and cyberbullying.
Kids who feel insecure about their birthmarks might end up getting cyberbullied because of that.
Even when this is not the case, cyberbullying might affect their self-esteem. Cyberbullying victims might start to feel dissatisfaction with who they really are. And as a result of this, they can start doubting their value and worth.
Some researchers speculate that cyberbullying can result in reduced well-being, psychological maladjustment, and ultimately, and reduced self-esteem since among young individuals.
It is common for children to isolate themselves when they get cyberbullied. Rather than turning to te available support systems, such as their closest friends, they tend to do the opposite.
Lack of focus is one of the main impacts of cyberbullying. Obviously, cyberbullying can negatively affect your child’s grades. If you notice that your kids started isolating themselves and struggles at school, talk to them and try too understand their problems.
Self-harm and suicidal thoughts
At times, cyberbullying victims may express their surpressed feelings with hurting themselves. For example, some may engage in self-harm, like burning or cutting themselves. As a matter of fact, many research shows a connection between self-harm and cyberbullying.
In addition, people who have been cyberbullyied are at the increase risk of committing suicide. Children who constantly get tormented by their peers through apps, social media, or text messages usually feel hopeless and may feel that the best way to relieve their pain is to end their lives.
It’s important to ask for help from experts
Although it is understandable that victims can feel a sense of fear and shame, they might use different ways to deal with cyberbullying impacts.
Basically, there are laws against transmitting or publishing obscene materials in electronic form. For instance, victims may consider blocking perpetrators and using legal recourse. This can be achieved by approaching the police and filing a complaint under the information technology and criminal laws. Based on your state, cyberbullying can be might be illegal and grounded by law. Remember to also document the incidents. Although cyberbullying involves painful messages, pictures, and words, it would be a great idea to save them to serve as evidence in the court if you decide to take legal action.
Victims can as well contact the non-government organisations and block perpetrators on applications and websites where the cyberbullying happened.
If your child is a cyberbullying victim, consider reporting it to the right people rather than not responding to the act. This can mean reporting the issue to social media providers or the school.
Usually, victims of cyberbullying get emotionally distraught and might not be able to look for help. So it is the community’s job to support the systems that will help prevent cyberbullying from happening in the first place. This can be through awareness campaigns that advocates for showing online buying is unacceptable or similar.
Resorting for professionals’ help is not just important for the cyberbullying victims. It is also crucial for the bullied-ones. If cyberbullying incidences are not stopped in adolescence, they may become serious harassment in adulthood.
Family, friends, teachers, and parents should have an open conversation with the affected cyberbullying victims to help them heal emotionally and mentally. At the same time, they should advise every youngster on how to use social media with caution and care, and what are the right steps to take when they see cyberbullying incidences.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.
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