How does cyberbullying usually start?

Cyber ​​bullying - what is it?

Cyber ​​bullying (synonymous with cyber bullying) is the intentional insulting, threatening, exposing or harassing others with the help of Internet and mobile phone services over a longer period of time. The perpetrator - also known as a "bully" - is looking for a victim who is unable or difficult to defend himself against the attacks. There is thus a power imbalance between perpetrator and victim, which the perpetrator exploits while the victim is socially isolated.

Cyber ​​bullying takes place on the Internet (e.g. in social networks, in video portals) and via smartphones (e.g. through instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp, annoying calls, etc.). Often the bully acts anonymously so that the victim does not know who exactly the attacks came from. Especially when it comes to cyber bullying among children and young people, victims and perpetrators usually know each other from their “real” personal environment, e.g. B. the school, the neighborhood, the village or the ethnic community. The victims therefore almost always suspect who might be behind the attacks.

Because the bully usually comes from the victim's immediate environment, cyber bullying is often associated with bullying in the offline world: Sometimes the bullying is continued online, sometimes the bullying begins online and then continues in everyday school life. For this reason, bullying and cyber bullying cannot be separated from each other in the majority of cases.

What is special about cyber bullying

Cyber ​​bullying differs from bullying offline in a few ways.

Intervention in private life around the clock:

Cyber ​​bullying doesn't end after school or work. Because cyber bullies can attack you around the clock via the (mobile) Internet, you are even followed by them at home. Your own four walls do not offer a place of retreat from bullying attacks.

The audience is huge; Content spreads extremely quickly:

Posts that are sent electronically are difficult to control once they are online. Therefore, the extent of cyber bullying is greater than that of offline bullying. Content that has long been forgotten can come out again and again and make it difficult for victims to get over it.

Bullies can act anonymously:

Not knowing who the perpetrators are can frighten a victim and make them feel insecure because they don't know exactly who is harassing them. The perpetrator does not show himself to his victim directly, but can act anonymously, which may even be true for him. confers deceptive security and often tenacious perseverance.

The victim's concern is not immediately perceived:

The victim's reactions to a hurtful statement, a disrespectful picture, etc. are usually not visible to the perpetrator online. In this way, the extent of the hurtful words and pictures is often not clear to the perpetrator.

  • chicane: Repeatedly sending offensive and hurtful messages via e-mail, SMS, instant messenger or in chats.
  • Spreading defamation / rumors: Spreading rumors about Internet and cell phone services to a large number of people.
  •  Exposure: Information that was originally made available in the trust of a certain person is sent to other people in order to compromise the victim.
  • Exclusion / Ignore: Deliberate exclusion from social activities, groups, chats etc.

How does web culture affect cyber bullying?

The (mobile) internet means that communication with other people is changing massively. On the one hand, it is certainly positive that we can be reached at any time without any problems, and can quickly check what your best friend has written or what photo has just been posted. On the other hand, there are also negative tendencies that this new “online communication culture” brings with it.

The Internet has become faster and faster in the past few years and the performance of the mobile Internet is also constantly improving. The consequences of this are that information reaches us at ever shorter intervals, even when we are on the move. The users have adapted to it: Even the Communication is getting faster, restless: Anyone who is not “on” for a day will find a number of messages from friends, acquaintances or colleagues on the computer or smartphone the following day. The other way around are posts, pictures or videos shared spontaneously and shipped. Not only positive, but also unfavorable snapshots or degrading comments are sent spontaneously and quickly spread virally via various services to a vast number of people.

Anonymity can be a uninhibited online communication favor that encourages agitation and slander against other users: Anyone who is anonymous on the Internet does not have to expect any negative consequences for their actions. In addition, online communication lacks direct reactions from the other person (unless you communicate with each other via video chat). The user can therefore often not assess how his statements will be received by other users because he does not see how the other reacts in facial expressions and gestures. It is therefore easy to hurt others online because you are the other not face to face encountered.

  • Excessive sharing of personal information

Social networks and many services such as WhatsApp, Twitter, Ask.fm etc. live from the fact that the users Share (too) much with others, because not all information, pictures or videos are suitable for sharing with everyone. Children and adolescents can easily be tempted to reveal a lot about themselves, because they want to test out how they get on with their peers. However, feedback from others on posted photos, videos, and other contributions is not always positive. It is easy for a user to fall into disrepute with others for their self-portrayal and is harassed.

Social communities and instant messengers offer the opportunity to make new acquaintances quickly and easily. These are then immediately added to Facebook, WhatsApp and Co. In this way, over time, more and more contacts come from a wide variety of contexts. It is not always easy to maintain an overview. But this is important because not all posts are suitable for all other users. Social communities now offer users the option of sharing their contacts in different groups to sort. The contributions that the user uploads can then be specifically approved for the individual groups (friends, acquaintances, etc.). In this way, unpleasant reactions from strangers or loose acquaintances to very personal contributions can be avoided.