What is cyberbullying? Why do we have to pay closer attention and tackle the issue?
Technology has become a useful tool for daily communication in societies around the world. However, it can be a double-edged sword, with technology’s rougher side used as a means to attack one another, causing many issues including sucide.
The number of Facebook users in Cambodia has sharply increased from only 5,000,000 in 2017 to 8,800,000 users in 2019, while the popularity of Youtube is approximately 2,000,000, surpassing Instagram by 130,000 users, followed by Tik Tok with 500,000 users, according to Geeks in Cambodia.
A study from UNICEF in Cambodia shows that over a million social media users are between 15 and 25 years of age, with the age group making up 85.7% of the total number of users who are facing cyberbullying and digital violence. According to the The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), in the last decade cyberbullying has become the second main cause of suicide in people aged 10 to 24 in the United States.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is a form of intimidation toward another‘s beliefs, religion, sexual orientation, appearance, and other methods that can be seen as threats or harassment over the internet or online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram or via online forums, email, websites, blogs, etc.
What are the types of cyberbullying?
According to Kaspersky Lab, a Russia-based cybersecurity provider, cyberbullying can be classified into various categories. However, Focus will mention 6 major types in Cambodian society:
Digital harassment refers to using text messaging generally with inappropriate language to harass, threaten, or embarrass an individual or a group of people, causing emotional distress.
Impersonation means that the bully pretends to be a person without his/her consent to their own advantage. The bully will share the victim’s personal information to others, saying mean and hurtful things online that offend and anger them, which might include something like a fake Facebook account or email using a person’s identity for their own benefits.
Denigration is defined as a form of sharing or posting fake or ill-willed information to defame someone and destroy their relationship with others. This is known to occur among former friends, whose relationship has soured.
Cyber-stalking includes all stalking activities from daily routines to the privacy of someone with a bad intention through digital methods. This category can also refer to sending messages or images to threaten a victim, causing fear of personal security and privacy.
Outing refers to the revealing of sensitive personal information belonging to someone, without his or her consent, with the intention to shame or embarrass a victim. For instance, sharing private pictures or important information of someone publicly, or sending those to a third party.
This category can be defined as using speech or images to intentionally shame others, in which there is no relationship between a bully and a victim. This is very common in Cambodian society, which might be seen as a form of joke, but it may negatively impact the victim’s sentiments.
What are the effects of cyberbullying ?
The Information Department of the Ministry of Interior says that this cybercrime is exponentially rising in Cambodia, especially among youth. This can gravely affect a victim’s mental health, causing isolation from society and family, or worse, sucide. Many international studies also confirm the consequences of technology, contributing to issues with education, drug addiction, violence, and social insecurity.
Ly Sokuntheary, an employee in a civil society organization and a former victim of cyberbullying, said that cyberbullying has drastically increased in Khmer society.
“The issue has occurred on almost every internet platform, becoming normal in people’s lives. I sometimes fear social media, so I decided not to use it frequently,” said Sokuntheary.
Kann Vicheika, who is a freelance reporter, also shared the experience of being a cyberbullying victim. When people attacked her online, it severely affected her mental health and working performance.
She stated that, “I have been a victim in the past few years, causing poor concentration on my work and sometimes I felt like crying and some other time I consciously asked the bullies why they attacked me, I’m just doing my job… So, what has happened to me was very unfair and horrible.”
What are the root causes of cyberbullying?
The causes of the issue according to UNICEF are:
- Limited understanding of the effects of internet and social media
- Individual’s attitudes; lack of empathy
- Desires to be powerful and more superior
- Personal benefits and popularity
- Imitation and personal conflicts
How do you protect yourself and others from cyberbullying?
Methods to prevent and stop cyberbullying include:
- Educate yourself on how to positively use the internet and social media
- Avoid participation in cyberbullying under any circumstances
- Try not to respond or attack back against the bully
- Share the problem with family members, friends, or relevant experts as soon as you suffer from a case of cyberbullying
- Collect proof and submit a report to relevant authorities
The Information Department has recently encouraged all users to prevent cybercrimes, including social media defamation, and only to share or post articles, images, and videos with non-bullying contents from reliable sources.
Sokuntheary said that in order to protect yourself from cyberbullying you should set your own preventive methods for privacy and communicate with only known people on social media platforms. You should also install one of the cybersecurity programs to protect your personal data.
Vicheika has resolved her own cyberbullying issue by ignoring the bully’s comments or messages, as it helps to reduce the impact on her mental health and to motivate herself in pursuing her career professionally.
This post is also available in: KH