What is Cyberbullying?
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) calls it an online form of bullying. It further says cyberbullies achieve their aim through online technologies. These online technologies include social media, messaging apps, and gaming apps.
Cyberbullies often attack others for things they say, spread lies about them, threaten, or even impersonate them.
Motives for cyberbullying are always insubstantial. For example, they could be sheer jealousy, lack of support for the victims’ sexual orientation, political view, opinion, etc.
Types of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is digital. It is not the type you’ve experienced with street thugs or in boarding school. Before discussing how to deal with cyberbullying, let us first examine its various types.
Cyberbullies harass people by passing rude comments at them. Similarly, they support an idea or belief you oppose to provoke you. These bullies can also choose to insult you or expose your dirty secret(s). This harassment behaviour is always repetitive.
The 2014 Pew Research Centre study showed that 22% of respondents admit that they have experienced name-calling and public embarrassment as a form of harassment.
18% of the respondents admitted having experienced stalking, threats, and sexual harassment for some time. In addition, many of the respondents struggled with how to deal with cyberbullying on social media.
Similarly, a 2015 Cyberbullying Research Centre in Nigeria survey showed that 23.9% of the respondents had harassed someone digitally. Also, 21% say they have been victims of online harassment through chat rooms, texts, and calls.
From its name, cyberstalking means monitoring a person online. It also involves sending people disturbing pieces of information.
Cyberstalking can be common with malicious exes. People split from their partners at times to regain their sanity. However, they don’t always enjoy this benefit as disgruntled exes often monitor them online.
They view their posts, see what has changed, confirm if they now have new partners, send them threatening messages, etc. This example is just one of the many instances of cyberstalking.
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Dissing exceeds releasing the hottest and greatest diss tracks of all times. Vector’s Judas the Rat and M.I Abaga’s The Viper are perfect examples of diss tracks in Nigeria. However, that is not what cyberbullying is about.
A cyberbully disses someone by spreading false and cruel information about them to damage their reputation. The bully does this through private or public messages. Most times, the bully is a close friend to the victim.
There is a common Nigerian expression, “Now dem neva leave you? They have left you.” This expression might sound hilarious, but it summarizes what exclusion is.
An exclusion means leaving a person out of a group. For example, this could exempt a person from an online group conversation. It could also mean not inviting them to a gathering of friends.
Trickery is not pranking. People prank for fun and bullies trick for ulterior motives. These bullies pose as friends. They use these supposed friend positions to deceive others into sharing private information.
The bullies ensure an established trust in them and get enough information to go around. They then go online to divulge the information they got in confidence. Other forms of cyberbullying are trolling, masquerading, and Doxing.
The BBN’s (Big Brother Naija’s) Angel Smith once lamented about trolling. Others who have also complained about cyberbullying on social media are Michelle Aigbe Gentry and the Arewa women. Common cyber bullies in Nigeria are social media users and loan sharks.
Effects of Cyberbullying on Victims
Before people begin to think about how to deal with cyberbullying, they would have suffered some consequences. Some of the negative effects of cyberbullying on victims are;
- Low self-esteem
- Isolation/Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Drug abuse
- Being suicidal
- Change in social behaviour
- Stress, anxiety, and depression
- Lack of concentration on tasks, education, or job
How to Deal with Cyberbullying
Many of us have experienced some things first-hand or through second-hand accounts. Imagine someone sharing their meat-stealing escapades as a kid. You might not relate, either because you’re a vegetarian or you were a great kid.
The same goes for cyberbullying. At one point in our lives, we or someone we know has been bullied. Unfortunately, this situation is not uncommon in this world of Twitter dragging.
Tips on How to Handle Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying happens almost everywhere if not all. Despite this, knowing how to deal with cyberbullying in Nigeria is a different ball game. Cyberbullies are ruthless and care less about the effects of their actions. This and the fact that anyone can be bullied is why sensitization on how to deal with cyberbullying is crucial.
Whether you have been bullied for goofing like Desmond Elliot or you are just caught in the web of a malicious person, these tips will help you.
Say no to Retaliation
Retaliation will only make issues worse. So don’t write unpleasant stuff about your bully.
Block the Bully
Blocking is easier digitally. Block the bully’s calls, emails, and texts. Also, block them from contacting you on social media.
Report the Bully
Report your bully to the platforms where you were bullied. For example, if you were bullied on social media or gaming platforms, use the report feature there.
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Share your Feelings
Bottling up your bullying experience will harm you. Instead, talk to a trusted person about your experience and feelings.
Speak with a Professional
Though therapy might sound like the ‘oyinbo’ man’s culture, people are beginning to embrace it. It can show you how to deal with cyberbullying if you try it out. A professional is trained to help you with issues like cyberbullying.
Seeking them when bullied gets you help on how to deal with cyberbullying. Likewise, you will gain more insights into how to deal with cyberbullying in the future.
Bullies are like predators, always on the lookout for prey. So when they come for you, do not panic. Instead, use our tips on how to deal with cyberbullying.
Have you ever been bullied? Do you care to share your experience with our readers? Kindly do join our Whatsapp community to share your thoughts.
- Oluwatosin Ajayi studied Mass Communication in Adekunle Ajasin University. She has a flair for content writing in cybersecurity. Her journalism experience helps her to research topics in-depth. She then uses her communication skills to pass across facts in digestible forms. Oluwatosin also writes fiction in her leisure time.
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