Understanding and managing cyberspace aggression

Guest blogger Amy Williams shares what to watch for and how to prevent meanness in the digital age.

The ripple effect of bullying can be felt across all lanes of life. Similar to raging drivers on the road, aggressive Internet users can create a threatening environment for the people around them. Normally, we only associate cyberbullying with teenagers, but it is an epidemic facing our society across all demographic age groups.

The anonymity provided by the Internet can encourage combative behaviors that normally aren’t exhibited in person to person contact. We might type a snarky comment or leave a hurtful post without thinking about the consequences of our word choice. However, unlike road rage, digital age bullying affects more than just a few passengers or fellow drivers on the road.

The Mechanics Of Cyberspace Aggression

There are many forms of harmful aggression using technology, but they all fall under the classification of cyberbullying.

Whether you are concerned about a co-worker from the office or your child’s classmate, problems can occur with the constant connectivity cellphones and the Internet provides. They allow negative comments and texts to invade a person’s life by digital means. People are unable to seek refuge from the onslaught of mean posts.

Listed below are a couple of the most common forms of bullying in the digital age:

Text Messages. If bullies know a cellphone number, they have access to a person long after the school or work day ends. This enables them to text or use anonymous apps to invade their target’s life. It is estimated that 1 in 5 teens are on the receiving end of text bullying.

Social Media Attacks. 95% of teenagers have witnessed cyberbullying while using Social Media. However, these issues are not just limited to the young. The data shows that in 2013, 30% of online stalker harassment began on Facebook.

Mapping Out A Plan Of Action

It’s not easy to understand why cyberbullying is on the rise or why some people delight in hurting others. Over the years people have justified combative behaviors, because it’s in our human nature to create a social hierarchy. However, by understanding an aggressor’s motivation, we have the ability to get to the bottom of the issue and halt bullying.

Listed below are statistics and common reasonings explaining why people rely on “bullying” behaviors:

  • 11%f for their friends
  • 14% want to be mean
  • 21% are out to embarrass the victim
  • 28% use it for entertainment
  • 58% are trying to get back at the victim for various reasons
  • 58% feel the victim deserves it
  • 16% have other reasons

8 Ways We Can Curb Cyberbullying

Stay Alert! Awareness is the first step to stop bullying. It’s amazing what we notice when our blinders are taken down and we realize how words can inflict pain.

Document Evidence. If you or your child is being targeted by online bullies, you will want to collect posts, texts, and pictures. Learn how to take a screenshot and save the evidence just in case you need to seek outside assistance from the authorities.

Report Bullying. Often, a lot of attention is focused on just the issue, but the bully doesn’t get help needed to change these behaviors. Encourage children to report negative posts to an adult. If it is occurring at work, report it to a supervisor.

Avoid Posting Mean Remarks. Positive thinking can be contagious. Make the world a better place by focusing a lot of good energy out into the world.

“Friend” Only Real Friends. Be careful with sharing personal information and only accept friend requests from people you actually know. “Catfishing” or using fake profiles is a favored method by cyberbullies to inflict pain.

Get permission before taking or posting photos. It is always recommended to ask permission before snapping that group photo or selfie. If you have children, remind them that locker rooms or bathrooms are not the place to be taking pictures.

Monitor your child’s online and cellphone activity. Know your child’s passwords and regularly check their online presence. An ounce of prevention can go a long way in preventing a serious problem.

Review Social Media etiquette. This is useful for all ages. Remember the Internet never forgets! It is generally a good idea to post things you only want your Grandparents to view.

Bypassing Bullying In The Digital Age

Thankfully, with a little awareness we can analyze aggressive situations, their causes, and possible solutions. If we work together to solve this issue, we can prevent these negative behaviors. It is in our power to equip ourselves to apply the brakes to these cyberbullying.

Our online interactions with others can become meaningful and intentional. In turn, maximizing our relationships and encouraging positive interactions on this road of life.

© 2015, Amy Williams

Amy Williams is a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be. You can follow her on Twitter.


“Bully” is a Four-Letter Word with Dr. Jo Ann Freiberg
Constructive Differencing with Dr. Jared Scherz
No Kidding about Bullying with Naomi Drew

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