Cyber Safety: The Effects of Cyberbullying

Kids used to bully each other by passing around nasty notes about the victim, spreading ugly gossip and rumors around school, and ganging up with other kids and saying mean and disparaging things about the victim. Bullying was restricted to a small community – the victim’s school and circle of friends. As terrible as those bullying methods are, they do not even approach the far-reaching, humiliating, and catastrophic dangers of today’s cyberbullying.

Our kids understand and use technology in a way that even the most tech-savvy parents can’t fathom.

Two-year-olds, when given a print book, attempt to swipe the pages.

Three-year-olds can scroll through apps on a cell phone or tablet, click a game, and play it, and find and scroll through digital photo albums on the device.

Five- and six-year-olds can send texts and download and use apps even before they can actually read.

By fifth or sixth grade, kids commonly have their own cell phones and tablets, or regularly use their parents’ or older siblings’ devices, and expertly navigate platforms that facilitate video calling like Skype and FaceTime. They know how to do Internet searches. They know as much texting shorthand as teenagers.

Before they even enter high school, they have created social-media profiles on numerous Web sites. In a matter of weeks, they have thousands of friends and followers. Even if you monitor or block their Internet use, they have access to an endless array of devices away from your home. They simply create their profiles with another device. And don’t be fooled. These kids raised in cyberspace know how to hide their heavy presence in social media from you.

By high school, kids are virtual experts in everything electronic, everything online. They have their own phones, computers, and tablets, all with full Internet access. They live online the way you lived on the phone.

We stand in awe of their technical dexterity. But with that dexterity comes a very dark side of technology when kids turn their devices into lethal weapons to hurt or bully another kid. We absolutely should tremble in fear before this side of technology, known as cyberbullying, the consequences of which our kids are completely unequipped and unprepared for.

Definition of Cyberbullying

The Web site StopBullying.org defines cyberbullying as “bullying that takes place using electronic technology.” Today’s kids have advanced degrees in social media and account hacking. And if they don’t, they probably know-a-guy-a-guy-who-knows-a-guy who does.

Kids treat cyberbullying like it’s a video game, really intense and cool while they’re playing and completely over when they’re finished. A cyberbullying attack, however, is almost never over.

Most kids who are victims of cyberbullying also endure physical-contact bullying, but cyberbullying is much harder to escape because it doesn’t happen just at school or just during normal awake-hours. Cyberbullying happens 24 / 7. It also reaches an exponentially larger audience because it is done online in front of the entire world. The perpetrators are often cleverly anonymous, making it nearly impossible to trace the source and erase the humiliating, degrading content.

The Various Cyberbullying Modus Operandi: How Kids Pull Off Cyberbullying

Some of them are relatively basic:

  • Harassing the victim, calling the victim names, and threatening the victim on social media or instant-messaging apps.
  • Taking embarrassing photos of the victim in places like a school restroom or gym and posting them to social media or texting them to hundreds of people.
  • Using your own social-media account to spread gossip about and post inappropriate photos of the victim.

Others are surprisingly complex:

  • Hacking an existing social-media account, changing the user name and password or creating a new account that appears to be the victim’s, and posting threatening or inappropriate material and embarrassing, lewd, and obscene pictures that have been photo-shopped to make it appear that the owner is posing the material. Since the owner of the account, or the apparent owner, does not have the new password, he or she cannot delete the pictures, comments, or account.
  • Hacking a social-media account, changing the user name and password so that the owner no longer has access, and cyberbullying a victim as the account owner so that the account owner is blamed and possibly prosecuted for cyberbullying another person.
  • Hacking a social-media account, changing the user name and password, and using the account to threaten the owner.
  • Hacking a computer and using the Web cam to stalk and terrorize the victim.
  • Hacking a computer and hijacking a home-security system and a home network so that the perpetrator can watch everything that happens in the home and disarm the security system.

One of Many Cyberbullying Stories

In a small Texas town in 2014, two 12-year-old girls were stalked, terrorized, and threatened by a third 12-year-old girl named Danielle, whose Kik account sent threatening instant messages. Danielle then hijacked the victims’ Instagram accounts and turned them into vulgar and frightening rants. Daniel denied any involvement in the cyberbullying, as did her parents, who claimed they had possession of Danielle’s cell phone and that Danielle was sleeping during one of the attacks. Danielle and her family believed a third party hacked Danielle’s cell phone and pretended to be Danielle. Danielle, therefore, may have been a third victim who was vilified for something she did not do.

The cyberbullying didn’t end with vicious instant messages and the hijacking of the victims’ Instagram accounts. That was just the beginning.

The victims’ home security networks had been hacked, which removed the parents’ administrator privileges. The SIM cards in the victims’ cell phones had been copied, which allowed the perpetrator to see text messages on the phones. The phones had been hacked so that the perpetrator could download audio and video from the phone cameras.

The case against Danielle quickly turned into a witch hunt that nearly destroyed Danielle. The other two twelve-year-old victims had to temporarily move to another state and live with relatives.

Danielle continues to deny any involvement in the cyberbullying and voluntarily gave up her two cell phones, after which the cyberbullying from Danielle’s social media accounts continued. The perpetrator has never been discovered.

In our next blog, we will tell you what you can do to help stop cyberbullying.

We are Advanced Bio Treatment. We are here for you 24 hours every day of the year. Should you need our services, please call us at 800-295-1684.

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Posted in Cyber Crime
Ted Pelot Owner & President of Crime Scene Cleanup Company - Advanced Bio-Treatment