Cyberbullying: Characteristics, Causes and Consequences

He Cyberbullying (CB) or virtual harassment is an aggressive and intentional act, carried out repeatedly, through the Use of electronic contact forms by a group or an individual against a victim who can not easily defend himself.

Thus, cyberbullying is that repetitive act of harassing, assaulting and damaging another person through telematic means: internet, mobile telephony, etc.


In recent years there has been a breakthrough in technology and digital media, and we are increasingly using the internet for a greater range of Activities, especially those related to communication.

Social networks Like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, messaging applications like Whatsapp, Skype, Live, electronic messaging services like Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo...

All of them allow us to communicate easily and quickly, but at the same time they enter us all in a virtual world.

This virtual world becomes especially important when children and adolescents use it, since they access directly and autonomously (often without the Surveillance of their parents) to a world difficult to control.

And this is where CB appears, when children and adolescents use these platforms to harass, assault or psychologically attack other minors with An apparent freedom and little control.

Having said that, it should be noted that when we talk about CB we are referring to that abuse that is done between equals.

That is: Ciberbullying is the act that makes a child or adolescent of harassing another child or adolescent of the same age (or similar).

Therefore, all those situations in which there are no children at both ends of harassment are excluded from this term.

Is cyberbullying the same as bullying?

Abused girl

Although the origin of CB and bullying ( Bullying Traditional) can be the same and both Types of harassment Many similarities, they are not exactly the same.

Obviously, CB can represent a form of bullying at the moment a minor (or more than one) begins to perform acts of harassment and aggression To a classmate over the internet.

However, cyberbullying is not always done by a schoolmate. As we have said, access to the virtual world in a more or less autonomous way, exposes the child to a greater number of people than in the real world.

This allows you to start receiving CB from any child, regardless of whether you know him or not.

In addition, certain differences between CB and traditional bullying have been connoted:

  1. Cyberbullying can be done by any child, without the need to be a schoolmate.

  2. Unlike traditional Bullying, when harassment is carried out by a group of minors, there is usually no overt leadership in the CB. None of the components.

  3. In traditional Bullying, harassment by children predominates, in the CB in gender it is distributed more evenly.

  4. Cyberbullying can be done by unsociable children with few friends, contrary to the traditional Bullying that usually carry out
    Children with high popularity among their peer group.

  5. In the CB the anonymity of the abuser is very simple.

  6. The victims of CB are usually girls, in traditional Bullying predominate children.

However, it is estimated that the consequences of cyberbullying and traditional bullying are very similar.

How does cyberbullying manifest itself?

Children with computer

Cyberbullying can be manifested in any way, since the telematic means offer a great variety of forms of expression.

In fact, the manifestation of CB is reserved to the imagination that can be applied by the harasser within the technological world.

However, there are a number of CB actions that occur more frequently than others.

In order to better identify possible cases of cyberbullying and to delimit this phenomenon, which can often be ambiguous, I will then comment on the 10 most common CB manifestations.

  1. Publish and share with public Internet profiles content that may harm, embarrass or humiliate the person. The content can be Real or formatted images, personal data, opinions, expressions, etc.

  2. Impersonate the victim in websites or social networks, creating a false profile with the person's name and photographs. Profiles are usually edited With negative or humiliating content to, as in the previous case, embarrass or outrage the victim.

  3. Use profiles like the one described above to add it to websites that are mocked or ridiculed. A common example is High profile of the victim in websites where it is tried to vote the most ugly person, silly, patosa, etc. Subsequently the profile with the The goal of seeing as many people as possible.

  4. Use the false profiles of the victim to write in the first person as confessions about certain events, always with A humiliating speech. The themes are usually sexual, personal, satirical anecdotes, etc.

  5. To impersonate the victim in forums or chats, expressing themselves in an aggressive or provocative way, in order to create conflicts with people So that they later recriminate their behavior to the victim (not the stalker who does not show his identity).

  6. "Hacking"the access keys of the email or accounts in the social networks of the victim to read their messages, violate their privacy, Create conflicts with their contacts, and change the password so that the victim can not access them again in their own accounts.

  7. To provoke the victim in the webs services that he uses and that contain moderator (chats, forums, online games), to obtain that it responds Violently, and subsequently denounce their reaction to be excluded or expelled.

  8. Register the victim's e-mail address on unpleasant or unfriendly websites to receive"spam"in your mail.

  9. Circulate rumors about behaviors or reprehensible actions of the victim on the web so that their social circle can read, believe and exercise Their own forms of retaliation or harassment. In this way, the stalker makes other people outside Cyberbullying also reproach or harass To the victim.

  10. Speak to the victim directly through chats or instant-messaging applications like Whatsapp, sending threatening messages, Repetitive and frequent, with the aim of annoying or intimidating him.

Cyberbullying Statistics

Girl with mac

Cyberbullying is a phenomenon that is increasing, and since the emergence of new technologies are increasingly found more cases.

In fact, the high prevalence of this problem makes many studies have been done recently.

However, the results obtained in each study are very different, and today an exact figure can not yet be provided.

In what does seem to be agreement is:

  • The percentage of students affected by CB is very high, either moderately (less than once a week) or severe (more than once per year). week).

  • In the United States and Asia, the highest prevalences are recorded (55%), Europe and Canada (25%), South America (22%).

  • In general, between 40 and 55% of students are involved in some way in cyberbullying (victims, aggressors or observers).

  • Between 20% and 50% say they have been victims of CB, although of them only between 2% and 7% severe form.

  • The more use is made of ICT, the greater the risk of being both aggressor and victim of cyberbullying.

  • The percentages found in the prevalence of CB are increasing, so as we have said, there is an increase of this Problematic among young people.

Emphasizing this last point, we could find as possible explanations to the increase of the CB prevalence the following aspects:

  1. Increased availability of new technologies among minors.

  2. Increasing the social importance of the virtual world in the lives of children.

  3. Minor perception of damage caused by the aggressor: when harassing over the internet, the effects of harassment are less visible even for the own Harasser

  4. Increased number of victims (since the aggressor does not need to know his victim to start the CB) and a greater sense of impunity (since he can Remain anonymous after the screen).

  5. Increase social networks, ease to communicate with people, create groups, contacts, etc. In Internet.

Consequences of Cyberbullying

Isolated child

The CB has negative consequences for all those involved (aggressors, victims and observers), although logically, those who are worse off are the Victims.

Through different studies, it has been shown that CB causes the same effects as traditional Bullying, and the fact that aggression is virtual and Not directly or physically, does not constitute a protective effect on the victim.

The consequences that have been demonstrated today on cyberbullying are as follows:

  • CB victims are more likely to suffer Depressive symptoms and of anxiety , Behavioral and social adjustment problems, and consumption of drugs.

  • The victims of CB are depleted of their self esteem Y self-confidence , Worsen their academic results, and diminish their social relationships.

  • Many CB casualties can turn into stalkers.

  • CB produces feelings of anger, anger, sadness, frustration and Defenselessness In the victims.

  • Cyber-aggressors are more likely to have moral disconnect, lack of empathy, personality and antisocial behavior, absenteeism school, consumption of drugs And criminal behavior

What should you do if you are a minor?

To prevent and manage CB:

  1. Be very careful with the data, photographs and personal information you enter on the network. Try to make this information available only for Your contacts.

  2. Be very careful with those who expose in chats or public forums, never provide information about you, do not know who is on the other side of the screen.

  3. Do not respond to Internet provocations, especially if you do not know the provocateur.

  4. When you are harassed it is preferable that you keep tests of the CB (messages, photographs, etc.), turn off the computer or mobile and consult an adult.

What should adults do?

To solve a problem of CB is important:

  1. It transmits confidence to the child so if you have a problem like this do not hesitate to go to you, if you try to solve it on your own, the thing is Can complicate.

  2. When you are informed respond calmly and calmly, support the child and tell him that you will help him to solve it.

  3. Inquire about the problem in question, and pay attention to its seriousness. If the aggressor has personal data such as address or school and the Violence of harassment is high, it will not hurt to go to the police.

  4. If the CB is less serious it helps your child to eliminate their internet accounts and erase all their data in the network so that the aggressor can not return to Contact him.

  5. If the cyber-aggressor is a companion of the victim, go to adults in your area to help you solve it (school teachers, parents or Relatives of the aggressor, etc.).

Have you ever suffered from cyberbullying? Tell us what you know about this phenomenon to help readers. Thank you!


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