Emotional Troubles for 'Cyberbullies' and Victims
Study Shows Mental and Physical Impact of Cyberbullying on Victims and Bullies
Emotional and Physical Issues continued...
In addition, cyberbullies also reported frequent headaches and feeling unsafe at school. Those teens who were both cyberbullies and victims reported all of these physical and mental health issues, the study found.
"Policy makers, educators, parents, and adolescents themselves should be aware of the potentially harmful effects of cyber bullying," conclude the researchers, who were led by Andre Sourander, MD, PhD, a child psychiatrist at Turku University in Finland. "Future research is needed on whether anti-bullying policies materials, interventions and mobile telephone and Internet user guidelines are effective for reducing cyberbullying."
Staying Safe Online
Parry Aftab's life mission is to keep children and teens safe online. An Internet privacy and security lawyer in Fort Lee, N.J., Aftab is the executive director of wiredsafety.org, an online safety and educational site which is the parent group for a charity called stopcyberbullying.org.
"Cyberbullying is when a minor uses technology as a weapon to hurt another," she says. It can take many forms such as stealing another kid's password or his or her points in an online game or digitally adding a peer's face to a photo of a naked body and then posting it online (where it can quickly go viral), she says. "There are millions of different ways to [cyberbully]; it is limited only by the bandwidth and creativity of kids."
Cyberbullying changes the typical playground or schoolyard social structure. "It brings a whole different group of kids into the problem," she says. "Real-life victims can become online bullies because it is rarely a matter of size," she explains. "It gets the girls and geeks involved and they are normally the ones being bullied."
There is no escape from cyberbullies, she says. If a child was bullied at school, home was often a safe haven. But "teens are always connected, and technology follows you everywhere you are, 24-7," she says. "Cyberbullying can have devastating consequences and parents need to understand that most kids have been cyberbullied at least once."
The question becomes what to do about it. Aftab's advice to teens who are victims of cyberbullies? "Stop, block, and tell," she says.