Most common cyberbullying attack methods

Teenagers go through important, often confusing life changes, especially during high school. Cyberbullies often abuse the insecurities that often accompany those changes to make it even worse emotionally. Online bullies can hide their identity and are not always held accountable for their actions, so they feel more empowered and are crueler than they might be in real life.

Three out of 10 US teens say they were bullied or harassed online at least once, according to a Bitdefender survey. They were criticized for their looks (57%), their opinion (44%), personality traits (30%), the way they dressed (27%), interests and passions (24%), sexual orientation (19%), name (17%), nationality (15%), family (13%), school grades (11%), financial situation (8%) or religion (6%).

Cyberbullying can take multiple forms, below are some common scenarios:

  1. Exclusion of the targeted child not only from all social activities and parties, but also from online conversations and groups. Treated as if they don’t exist, they feel like outsiders and unaccepted by friends.
  2. Denigration is what cyberbullies most often aim for with their tactics. By spreading rumors and gossip, bullies want to destroy victims’ reputations and humiliate them.
  3. Harassment by constantly sending kids rude, humiliating or abusive messages to destroy their self-esteem.
  4. Outing is when bullies share private conversations, pictures, videos or diary entries, especially related to their sexual orientation, on social networks, web pages or discussion groups. Outing goes hand in hand with phishing that tricks kids into sharing information for later use against them or their family.
  5. Email threats and image dissemination are the most aggressive tactics, often linked to suicide cases. Emails and texts are commonly used to send various types of explicit threats, including death threats, to scare the child into giving in to the bully’s requests. Emails are also used to publicly share personal conversations or graphic photos or videos of the child.
  6. Catfishing or impersonation through fake emails, social network accounts and texts is another method used to spread false information and make rude or embarrassing comments to humiliate kids.

It’s not easy or even recommended to monitor each move your child makes online, because you’d risk losing their trust. Social networks and online groups open up a completely new world that, as appealing as it is, is also dangerous. Prevention is best, so speak to your children about online risks even before they show interest in social media, and help them understand online behavior.

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