In this era of the so-called Information Technology with just one click we can send or receive documents, books or photographs; it does not matter the distance that they have to travel, nor the time in which we send them. These technologies are more used and sometimes better understood by children and adolescents because they were born in a completely digital world. However, they are also the most vulnerable to suffer different forms of violence through technologies.
Such is the case of cyberbullying or digital harassment, which is related to the use of the Internet or different digital media – such as cell phones, SMS messaging, WhatsApp, web portals or social networks – to attack through threats, ridicule, intimidation or insults to a person.
Unlike bullying – the type of harassment in which the victim recognizes her attackers – cyberbullying uses anonymity to carry out the aggression. “In fact, bullying ends when the victim is out of the reach of the aggressors. But in cyberbullying any place can be the scene of this aggression; at any time of the day or night the messages start offensive or threatening, that is, someone is deliberately doing, and that with a single click causes not only people close to the victim but from anywhere in the world to find out.”
This type of behavior causes a substantial impact on children, there are even those who have to modify some of their activities to avoid being attacked. But many times the aggression continues since it has been discovered that frequently who produces this emotional damage is someone close to the victim. Those responsible for cyberbullying are usually teenagers with little supervision from their parents and with proper handling of information technologies. Also, they have access to devices such as a computer or a cell phone.
The aggressor, as in bullying, is someone who may have some family or personal problems. In the case of cyberbullying can also be people who do not have friends and therefore use a computer or any mobile device to harass, intimidate or attack others, even, come to alter their hours to sleep, they are revealed by being on the watch of his victim.
Although there is no physical aggression like in bullying, cyberbullying emotionally affects the victims, because someone who is bombarded by offenses, threats or insults has his health diminished, as he can not sleep, has nightmares and night terrors, especially if the victim is a child. Someone who is a victim of cyberbullying is constantly checking his cell phone or social networks to see if they have said something against him or, on the contrary, he may be the last one to know what is being said about him.
When the emotional state remains altered continuously or for long periods, it can lead to a physical health problem such as gastritis or high blood pressure, since the victim does not sleep, does not eat and is very affected. There are even cases in which personality and emotional vulnerability can lead an individual to a suicide attempt.
The victims of cyberbullying have certain characteristics. The stalkers usually choose them because they perceive them as emotionally and physically weak, that they feel or are different and who will not have the support of their peers, because they have put them aside. That is, they are easily identifiable by those who are going to bother them.
The types of aggression that occur in cyberbullying, which is more frequent between 12 and 19 years, are rumors, offenses, threats, and intimidation, among others. What is involved is to threaten a person to immobilize, because he no longer goes to school, does not want to go out alone or stops attending their favorite sites because he is afraid and does not dare to denounce.
“Photos can be deleted from a device, but once placed on the network, it is challenging to remove them. Besides, they can be used by other people with criminal intentions, such as trafficking in persons, “added the psychologist.
Many times the victims do not ask for support because they think that the aggressor will get tired and stop attacking. Therefore, they get to modify their routines, change their phone number and can even change their house. Sometimes they do not comment with anyone about the cyberbullying they live, because they believe that in that way they will prevent the aggression from spreading further.
- Victims of cyberbullying can develop long-term emotional problems
- Post-traumatic stress leads to personality changes
- Difficulties to relate to others
- A sensation of abandonment and hopelessness
- Hostility, nervousness, loss of feeling of control