Back in the day, being bullied means that someone encountered repeated harassment that can be physical or verbal in person. However, digital technology advancement has disrupted the way bullies bullied their victims. Bullying no longer only happens at the schoolyards or street corners, it can occur anywhere, anytime, with potentially hundreds of people involved.
The new form of bullying is commonly referred to as cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is a form of harassment that takes place over any digital platform. Generally, it is done through the use of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Although these are the most common, cyberbullying can also happen through email, SMS, online videos or Instant Message[i]. The bully would try to harass, intimidate or threaten the victim, for instance by sending racial, gay or ethnic slurs; or even sending a virus to infect the victim’s digital device[ii].
A poll conducted in 2019 by Poll Indonesia where they surveyed 5,900 ‘netizens’ indicated that 49 percent of people in Indonesia with an online persona has been bullied in cyberspace[iii]. Cyberbullying has become a growing phenomenon. Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying doesn’t require face-to-face contact and isn’t limited to just a handful of witnesses at a time. It also doesn’t require physical power or strength in numbers. Anyone who has a social media account and digital device can take part in initiating cyberbullying. As people generally adopt pseudonyms whenever they create an account on a site, the anonymity of cyberspace can act as an encouragement to an aggressor due to it being hard to determine the identity of said aggressor[iv]. This is why these days it is more likely for someone to be bullied in cyberspace than in face to face communication.
Despite taking places in cyberspace, cyberbullying can affect the victim’s daily life. The long-term trauma of being cyberbullied can threaten the victim’s life and well being. That being said, it is necessary to take action against cyberbullying.
One of the things that we can do to stop cyberbullying is through reporting and blocking the aggressor’s account. Other measures like simply not responding to slandering messages or not opening messages from unknown accounts can also be effective. However, the best way to deal with cyberbullying begins on the ground with the people involved. People's involvement can be established by raising communal awareness of the danger of cyberbullying.
[i] Stopbullying.gov (2019) “What is Cyberbullying”. https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it [Accessed 3 Feb 2020]
[ii] Margaret Rouse (2015) What is. “Definition Cyberbullying”. https://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/cyberbullying [Accessed 4 Feb 2020]
[iii] The Jakarta Post (2019) Science & Tech. “Half of all netizens in Indonesia victims of cyberbullying: Study”. https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2019/05/16/half-of-all-netizens-in-indonesia-victims-of-cyberbullying-study.html [Accessed 7 Feb 2019]