Cyberbullying: The effects, prevention and how to stop it
In 2018, the results of a Talking point survey had discovered that three in four youths have been cyberbullied and 88% of them didn’t take any action.
That statistic is shocking.
As a victim in the past, I can understand and relate to the negative effects cyberbullying can have on people.
As such, this is an effort to raise awareness and help others who might be in the same position as I once was.
This is the first article in a 2 part series that touches on cyberbullying. The second article will be published shortly!
Cyberbullying is a form of bullying, where bullying takes place online to hurt or embarrass someone. Also known as cyber harassment or online bullying, cyberbullying is very common in Singapore.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common cyberbullying examples below:
Here are some effects cyberbullying can have on the victims.
Sourced from Flickr | The People Speak
Cyberbullying can lead to:
- Lower self-esteem,
- Depression and anxiety,
- Feelings of humiliation, frustration and helplessness,
- Suicidal thoughts
Having anxiety or depression can also lead to other severe impacts on the victim. For instance, victims may develop severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder too.
To help with your mental health, here’s a resource list detailing 15 self-care Instagram accounts that you can follow!
Due to the negativity directed towards them, online victims are likely to experience:
- Difficulty in forming healthy relationships,
- Poor social relationships,
- Feeling of loneliness from family and peers,
- Feelings of isolation and helplessness
Sourced from Flickr | Daniela Brown
Victims who’re often bullied for their appearance are likely to experience a severe strain on their mental health.
And consequently, could lead to the development of dangerous coping mechanisms such as:
- Unhealthy weight loss approaches
Fat-shaming could encourage unhealthy weight loss approaches and lead to the development of eating disorders.
According to the National Eating Disorder Association, as many as 65% of people that were suffering from eating disorders claimed that bullying contributed to their condition.
Victims may also resort to self-harm habits due to the negativity that they had received. This is also considered one of the few behaviours that signify a suicidal mindset.
Skipping school to avoid harassment from their bullies is also directly related to poor academic grades.
Is Cyberbullying a crime?
Yes. It is a crime and Singapore has zero tolerance for cyberbullying.
Did you know that you can take legal actions on the matter too?
Some civil remedies that can be provided are:
- Applying for a Protection Order (PO)
- Suing for defamation
- Suing for unlawful stalking
For more details on the civil and criminal remedies, you can check out this article by Singapore Legal Advice!
In this section, we have listed down a couple of cyberbullying prevention tips that you can follow!
1.) Utilise privacy tools
Sourced from Instagram
It is important to make good use of privacy tools on social media platforms. This is also the most suited prevention measure for cyberstalking and cyberbullying.
If your social media account is not private, anyone from all over the world can access your profile, so long as they have your username.
Find out how Instagram is helping to fight cyberbullying!
2.) Think twice before posting
Always think twice before posting anything online.
Refrain from revealing any confidential or sensitive information on social media e.g. your house address, telegram username even if your account is private.
Before posting anything online, take a minute to consider whether your post could potentially spark controversy or incite discord.
In today’s day & age, social media has given each of us a voice. But it has also made it easier for us to become targets for others to hate on.
3.) Raise awareness
Cyberbullying is prominent in Singapore. It’s likely that everyone has witnessed cyberbullying but not everyone recognises it. As such, there are always cases that go unreported.
It’s necessary to address the topic and raise awareness within the community.
Only by doing so can we educate others, encourage victims to speak up and have online bystanders offer support or call the bully out.
With a safe and responsible online community, cyberbullying cases will eventually drop.
How to deal with cyberbullying
If you’re a victim of cyberbullying, we suggest you follow the tips below on how you can deal with it.
1.) Validate your feelings
As once a victim of cyberbullying, I often blamed myself for the negative treatment I received from the perpetrators.
I often self-gaslighted and viewed the bullying as something that I deserved. As a result, it affected my self-esteem and self-confidence.
Self-gaslighting can be described as an act of invalidating your feelings, thoughts, emotions and/or reality.
This is an extremely awful thing to do to yourself. Over time, self-gaslighting causes poor self-esteem, anxiety, depression or even trauma.
Here are some examples of self-gaslighting and affirmations you can give yourself:
2.) Never retaliate
It is important to note that retaliating will make matters worse.
Retaliating means giving a similar treatment back to the perpetrators.
Doing so will get you worked up and negatively affect your productivity, focus and morale.
Hence, never seek revenge or mirror the bullies’ actions, remember that these actions will have consequences.
3.) Utilise anti-cyberbullying tools
These tools vary depending on the social media platform you’re on, here are some of the reporting and privacy tools that you can utilise whenever you experience any form of cyberbullying:
If the situation is severe, the next thing to do is to escalate the situation, gather evidence and report it to the relevant authorities.
If you were cyberbullied by someone from your school, you should report it to the school heads whereas if you were cyberbullied by a stranger, you can opt to file a police report.
Make sure to screenshot or record evidence immediately. Bullies may attempt to delete what they had posted online to avoid getting caught
5.) Take a break from social media
Social media can be fun and addictive. It can be a great place to interact with friends and learn new things. But with the negative impacts that follow cyberbullying, it can also come at the expense of your mental health.
Taking a break will help you heal effectively. A study in 2018 had discovered using social media just 30 minutes a day can lead to a significant improvement in one’s well-being
Put your phone down and focus on the things that matter, rather than the things that don’t.
Eventually, as you no longer react to their antics, these cyber bullies are likely to stop.
Resources for professional help
If you are unsure of who you should seek for professional help or/and information, we have listed a few examples in the following!
- Feeling Better Sg for information on cyberbullying and activities to cope
- Singapore Association of Mental Health (SAMH) for therapeutic interventions and counselling services
- Samaritans of Singapore for suicide-related concerns and emotional support
- Media Literacy Council for information with regards to cyberbullying issues
- Touch Cyberwellness for information and counselling services with regards to cyber wellness
We hope this article has been helpful to you in understanding more about cyberbullying.
If you’re a victim of cyberbullying, we strongly suggest viewing these resources and following the methods laid out in dealing with cyberbullying.