Reasons for Cyberbullyingby William Lynch
Like all human behaviors, bullying has entered the digital age. The traditional playground bully who physically intimidates smaller, weaker children has been joined by the cyberbully, someone who uses the Internet, cell phones or some other form of digital technology to harass, humiliate or threaten another individual. There is no one simple reason behind cyberbullying, and the motivations are truly as varied as the bullies themselves. However, a few common threads persist.
Sadly, many cyberbullies perform their actions for pure entertainment. Children often feel bored when they have too much time on their hands, and the Internet and cell phones provide easy access to potential victims. These cyberbullies often don't even realize the serious consequences their behavior creates; they're only interested in having fun and laughing at another's expense. If the victim responds to the bullying, it may only increase the intensity of the attacks, since this type of cyberbully craves reaction.
Some children may feel powerless at school or at home and resort to cyberbullying as a way to exert power over someone else. These bullies are often the types of children associated with being a traditional bully's victim, appearing meek and unassuming until they get online and adopt an aggressive personality. Cyberbullying levels the playing field and provides these children with a chance for revenge, and tasting that initial power rush usually inspires only more bullying.
Cyberbullying is not gender-specific. Girls can be just as vicious as boys, particularly when criticizing another girl's physical appearance. Female cyberbullies will also resort to spreading hateful rumors about their victims, posting the gossip on social media sites and popular message boards. By constantly demeaning and tormenting another, the cyberbully believes she is proving her superiority and validating her social status. The ultimate goal of this form of bullying is to gain popularity and influence within the dominant social circle.
Not all cyberbullying begins with mean intentions. Sometimes, a child will witness someone bullying someone else and, feeling no other way to pursue justice, will take to the Internet to right the initial wrong. While noble, this unique form of cyberbullying only perpetuates the same cycle of intimidation and fear. These cyberbullies essentially take the law into their own hands, behaving the same as real-world vigilantes. The best way for these children to avoid falling into the cyberbullying trap is to report the initial incident to a teacher, parent or another responsible authority.
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