Cyberbullying — more than "mean girls"

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

There is no place to hide. The Internet and mobile phones have extended bullying beyond the schoolyard. Cyberbullying uses digital or electronic media to send aggressive messages, such as threats, harassment or rumors. Given the growing popularity and ubiquity of cell phones and the Internet, cyberbullying can attack in areas previously safe from traditional bullying. Victimization occurs anytime, anywhere.

Cyberbullying sparked media attention in dramatic, high-profile cases in which victims of online harassment committed suicide. Some were even mocked after their deaths through social media. These stories raise awareness of dramatic cases. But they overlook the dangers of minor, daily, mundane incidents — teasing, name calling, taunts that have a corrosive impact on victims’ quality of life.

More than 90 percent of teens are Internet users; three-quarters own a cell phone. The average teenager spends as much as seven hours each day using media or technology, including TV, games or a computer — plus 90 minutes texting or talking on the phone.

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