Thursday, February 20, 2014

Who Is a Typical Cyberbullying Target?

Any child, preteen, or teen is a potential cyberbullying target. They don’t need to have home Internet access, a cellphone, or any cyber-connection. The cyberbullies are perfectly happy to have technology do their dirty work in destroying reputations or creating offline responses to online provocation.

Obviously, when friends have a falling out or romance takes a bad turn, cyberbullying is a viable option to settle scores and share hurt feelings. Seventy percent of cyberbullying comes from friends or acquaintances.

Bigotry, hate, and intolerance are big motivators, as well. Anyone who has been the target of offline bullying or is more vulnerable to it is a likely target, too. Jealousy plays a powerful role in motivating cyberattacks by those involved and their friends.

The more a student shares personal and private information, gets involved in heated online debates, or has an offline problem, the more likely they are to be targeted. The less careful they are, the fewer security settings and tools they use, and the less care they take in their communications, the more likely they will be targeted.

And, if their password is vulnerable, so are they. Eighty-five percent of grammar school students and 70% of middle and high school students have shared their passwords with at least one other person. 

The more Internet and technology literate the students are, the less vulnerable they will be. Many leave themselves open to attack, hacking, and having their personal information misused by cyberbullies. An easy mark is far more obvious online than offline.

Cyberbullying starts early and continues to adulthood if things don’t play themselves out or if they don’t learn how to protect themselves.

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Parry Aftab is interested in hearing ideas and questions about digital safety, privacy and cybersense. Please do not advertise or promote services or products or include a link, video or image in your comment.

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