With the prevalence of social media platforms in today’s digital world, it is alarmingly evident that technology has created brand new challenges that affect the mental health of users, one of the major ones being cyberbullying. This technology-based peer victimization involves harassing, threatening, embarrassing, or targeting another person, intentionally and repeatedly, mostly with the intention of harming the online reputation as well as the emotional state of a person.
Ahead of Friendship Day on August 2, 2019, Inshorts conducted the Cyberbullying Poll, in association with Cadbury Dairy Milk, to measure the presence and severity of bullying online and to encourage visible support for the same. A total of 89,695 users participated in the survey.
According to the findings of the poll, a whopping 57.6% respondents revealed to have been cyberbullied at least once in their lives of which 46.5% respondents indicated that they have been harassed online more than once.
When asked what cyberbullying actually meant to them, 24.4% respondents chose the ‘All of the above’ option, that mainly enclosed repeatedly teasing a person, sending threatening/provocative messages, spreading rumours and/or dissemination of someone’s pictures/videos, without their consent. This indicates that more than 75% of them have a limited understanding of what constitutes cyberbullying.
To further determine the perpetuation of the issue, users were asked how often cyberbullying happened according to them. More than 35% of respondents believed that it is a widespread phenomenon and happens all the time on the internet. However, 65% of respondents did not seem to acknowledge the presence of cyberbullying, stating that it hardly happens or never happens or happens only sometimes.
Only 8.8% of respondents thought that the best possible way to handle cyberbullying was to save the evidence and report it while 34.3% said they had reported their traumatic experience. Often, this lack of communication stems from embarrassment or fear. Youngsters worry that telling an adult will make harassment worse once the bully finds out, or that people in authority will not be able to do anything to stop the abuse.
Around 18.2% respondents revealed that they wanted to report the harassment but did not know who to go to or how to stop it. Around 16% said that they preferred to confide in their close friends.
Another solution that more than 72% of respondents picked to tackle the situation was to simply block the bully or ignore them. This suggests that most of them preferred behaving in a calm and non-controversial manner, rather than taking any strong, legal steps.
Surprisingly, only 18.7% of respondents think that the victim should actually confront the bully and shut them down, personally or publicly. This could mean that either the victim is afraid to face the problem at hand or simply doesn’t want to put themselves through that kind of mental pressure and negativity.
It is comforting to know that over 55% supported their friends in some way or the other when they realized that they were being bullied online, as opposed to the 26.4% who chose to ignore it. 45.4% supported the victim offline, choosing to ignore the bullies online. 17.8%, however, decided to confront the perpetrators online. Meanwhile, 10.4% suggested that the victim immediately block the bully, so that they feel safer and in control.