Cyberbullying: A Threat To Your Mental Health | Types, Impact, Reasons, And How To Cope
Cyberbullying is a term that we’ve been hearing for years, well, ever since our lives have been active on the internet. Cyberbullying is when someone uses the internet or technology to bully or harm others. More often than not, social media becomes the primary channel for cyberbullying.
But how is cyberbullying connected to our mental health?
Did you know that cyberbullying has long been considered a public health concern? Almost 59% of teens in the United States report being bullied online. And this number has only increased as the years go by.
Cyberbullying can have several psychological effects and in this blog, we’ll focus on learning more about cyberbullying, the types of cyberbullying, how cyberbullying affects mental health, and how to cope with it.
What Is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is the use of the internet to intentionally hurt another person. This could include online harassment, threats, and public embarrassment. Cyberbullying, as the term suggests, is the use of digital technologies to target others, this means that most people are bullied when they are online – either through their cell phones, tablets, computers, etc.
Cyberbullies are more or less active on social media, apps, online chat forums, online video games, etc. Most of the time, cyberbullying happens via emails, text messages, or DMs.
Types Of Cyberbullying
Yes, there are various types of cyberbullying. Let’s take a look at some of them:
- Flaming: This is when someone uses offensive language to hurt others or to elicit a reaction.
- Outing: This type is when someone shares another’s personal information on their social media or where other people can read or see the shared information.
- Trolling: This is a pretty common term that’s being used these days. This refers to when someone posts a comment to rule others. This is more passive cyberbullying where one comment can start a chain reaction while the instigator sits back and watches.
- Name Calling: As the name suggests, this type of cyberbullying is when someone calls offensive or derogatory names to a person or group of people. Did you know that more than 40% of teens are a victim of this type of cyberbullying?
- False Information: This is when someone deliberately spreads false rumors, disguised as truths, about someone. More than 30% of teens are a victim of this type of cyberbullying.
- Explicit Images/Texts: This is when someone sends another explicit message or picture without the other’s consent.
- Cyberstalking: As the term suggests, this is when cyberbullies use harassment and threats to target an individual. More than 15% of teens fall victim to this type of cyberbullying.
Why Do People Engage In Cyberbullying?
Well, many factors can cause one to engage in cyberbullying. Some of them can be:
1. Poor Mental Health
If someone is living with mental health disorders that can be associated with bullying, then they are likely to engage in cyberbullying. Examples of cyberbullying here can include people living with aggression or anger issues, hyperactivity, impulsivity, or substance use disorder. People with the “dark triad” personality traits can also engage in cyberbullying.
2. A Victim Of Cyberbullying
If someone has previously been a victim of cyberbullying or bullying, then they are also likely to engage in cyberbullying. They may do so because bullying others can make them feel in control after being a victim and not being able to stop the bullying.
Yes, you read that right. Cyberbullies are more or less likely to be someone you know. Sometimes, the harassment can begin after a conflict or the end of a relationship. This type of cyberbullying can also be driven by envy or revenge.
Boredom can also be a reason why people cyberbully. Some people just want to try out something new, like a new persona and they may react to this by engaging in cyberbullying. This kind of behavior is mostly anonymous.
Someone who struggles with chronic loneliness or who feels left out by society may also engage in cyberbullying to feel less lonely. When they are ignored by others, they may use cyberbullying as a tool to vent their frustrations.
How Does Cyberbullying Affect Mental Health?
The effects of cyberbullying are many and can be sometimes too obvious. Here are some signs of what cyberbullying may look like and how to identify if someone is being bullied:
- Feeling distressed
- Increased signs of depression and anxiety
- Increased mood swings
- Trouble falling asleep (or having insomnia)
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
- Increased feelings of fear
- Low self-esteem and self-worth
- Social isolation
- Avoiding activities one once enjoyed
- Failing academic performance
- Trouble holding onto relationships
- Increased symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Increased substance use
- Increased feelings of anger and irritation
How To Cope With And Prevent Cyberbullying?
There are many ways to cope with and prevent cyberbullying – if you’re being cyberbullied or if you are a cyberbully. Let’s take a look at some of them below:
1. If You’re Being Cyberbullied
If you are a victim of cyberbullying, then you can:
- Do NOT counterattack with a negative response. Doing this will only make the situation worse.
- Do NOT take comments personally. The offensive comments are nothing to do with you. It’s just the cyberbully’s way of asserting their dominance.
- Follow up on the offensive comment when you’re calmer. If you do read a nasty comment online, take a break, walk away from your device, and once you’re calmer, then respond to the message, if you must.
- Take a break. If you’re being cyberbullied, then you can do well by taking a tech break. This means shutting off your devices and enjoying an activity with your loved ones, meditating, or just engaging in self-care.
- If the cyberbullying continues, then take screenshots of the comments so that you have a copy when you go to report the bullying.
- Remember, after you report the cyberbullying to concerned authorities, you need to block the user.
2. If You Are A Cyberbully
What to do when you’re a cyberbully? Well, we have solutions for you too. If you want to stop cyberbullying (and prevent cyberbullying), you can consult a therapist. If you believe that your mental health is one of the main contributors to cyberbullying actions, then immediately consult a therapist.
If it’s your anger issues, then you can benefit from anger management classes. If you can relate to psychopathic or sociopathic traits, then it is recommended that you speak to a professional for the right support.
Similarly, if your cyberbullying actions stem from loneliness, boredom, or conflicts, then also you can benefit from connecting with a therapist.
I hope the above information helps you. For more, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on social media. You can also share your thoughts and views on cyberbullying and its impact in the comments below.
Remember, we’re here for you. You are not alone!
Take Care and Stay Safe!