Imagine sending your child off to school. You are more than excited to hear about her day at school with all her new friends, and can hardly wait for her to come home. That night, you walk into your kids’ room and her eyes are filled with tears, pointing to her phone. She has received numerous inappropriate and malicious comments on her Instagram for no reason at all. Your child is being Cyberbullied. Cyberbullying, a form of online bullying, has been an increasing issue for young children and adolescents with the rise of technology. Cyberbullying can be anything ranging from sending malicious or harmful content to others, or sharing private information with others about someone, causing humiliation or pain. Currently, cyberbullying has been at an all-time high with an increasing use of various forms of public social media, such as Instagram and Twitter. Children and adolescents are able to make their profiles public, giving even strangers permission and access to stalk their photos and lives. With that being said, cyberbullies are able to leave negative comments on public profiles without facing major repercussions if the victim stays silent, while giving the cyberbully the satisfaction of power. Although it can be difficult to truly identify the motives and judgments of the cyberbully, various studies show that Cyberbullies bully others as they lack morality, have been raised on different cultural values, or have never experienced healthy parental relationships and the effects of cyberbullying can be trivial. It is important to fully understand the motives of Cyberbullying and effects of cyberbullying can have on the victim so you can prevent anyone around you that may be going through something.
That brings us to our first point: Cyberbullies bully as they lack morality and empathy. A study was performed to measure the levels of morality and empathy in those who have participated in cyberbullying. The results were as predicted; cyberbullies had moderate to low levels of morality, explaining why they are moderately respectful in person, but behind an electronic device, the aggression and bullying are less severe in their eyes. Morality can represent moral judgment, the distinguishing factor from what is right and wrong, social conformity, and a variety of other concepts. The children who cyberbullied admitted that their anonymity allowed less justification for their actions, even though they are aware the victim is being affected. Furthermore, the absence of confrontation made cyberbullying more attractive for bullies to pick their victims.
In a like manner, Cyberbullies are more inclined to partake in cyberbullying based on the value systems they are raised on. A study used the value system that is used in 70+ cultures. Its top two goals consist of Power and Hedonism. Power is described as the desire for high status through dominance, while Hedonism is described as pleasure and self-satisfaction. Different values can influence the extent of a child’s involvement in aggressive behavior, which determines their levels of morality. With too high of a need for power and hedonism, a cyberbully may lose track of wrong from right behavior and become immersed in bullying an individual. The more the cyberbully receives a reaction from the victim, the higher their levels of self-enhancement soar, which can be seen as success, power, and dominance to the cyberbully.
Lastly, Cyberbullying can arise based on is the relationship the bully has with their family. Studies present that a positive caregiver-child relationship decrease the motivation and likelihood for a child to engage in bullying and cyberbullying. Having a strong and healthy relationship with a positive mentor, such as parents or teachers, reduce online bullying. Adolescents who grow up with lack of empathy and guidance from their parental figures oftentimes reciprocate those emotions towards other children, in an act of rebellion and jealousy.