How can we combat the expanding problem of cyberbullying?

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How can we combat the expanding problem of cyberbullying?

March 18, 2022 -

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© TheVisualsYouNeed/

Online name-calling made one girl contemplate suicide. General cyberbullying over a period of eight hours put a sixteen-year-old boy in the psychiatric ward of a hospital. Unfortunately, affirms these testimonies and has more on its website. Tragically, cyberbullying causes people to question their worth, their security, and, in some cases, their life. defines cyberbullying as “bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets.” 

This type of bullying is taking place, and it is present enough to raise concern among many, including the United Nations. On Safer Internet Day, they posed cyberbullying as a top concern among other problems occurring online. 

With this in mind, a look at the impact of cyberbullying may show why it is one of the leading factors behind negativity in our world, why it’s powerfully influential, and why this practice needs to be stopped.

Where does cyberbullying happen?

Currently, there are 4.88 billion internet users, which make up 62 percent of all people on the earth. On average, these users spend around two and a half hours of their internet time on social media platforms, which are the most common places where cyberbullying occurs. 

The window for someone to encounter cyberbullying is wide open.

Cyberbullying occurs most frequently in the comment sections of these platforms. One out of five internet users has encountered cyberbullying in the comment sections of social media platforms. These sections provide ample opportunity for bullies online. There is virtually no restriction to what they can say, and they can hide their true identity behind a username.

Who is being cyberbullied?

Cyberbullying reaches a variety of people. Age is not a barrier. Over half of teens in the US have been subject to bullying online. It doesn’t go away when they enter adulthood either. A quarter of adults from twenty-six to thirty-six years old have experienced cyberbullying on platforms, and it continues to be a problem through a person’s sixties.

The gender of a person makes a slight difference when it comes to being a victim of cyberbullying. The percentage of both boys and girls (ages thirteen to seventeen) who have experienced cyberbullying is in the low twenties, but it appears more girls have been bullied online than guys.

People of all races are subject to cyberbullying. A study shows, however, that the two groups of teenagers who have experienced cyberbullying the most are white and multiracial individuals

One of the most concerning statistics in the study at hand shows that teens in the LGBTQ community are experiencing cyberbullying the most. According to data, victimization among youth in the LGBTQ community was 50 percent higher than those outside of it. 

The impact of online bullying

The impact of online bullying makes these statistics on the rate and dispersion of cyberbullying more alarming. 

Encounters with cyberbullying result in a plethora of consequences: 

  • Research has shown reading negative comments can lead to depression and anxiety, as well as contribute to a lack of self-esteem and confidence.
  • Frequent criticism, cynical thoughts, and denial can create neural pathways in the brain that encourage sadness. These negative tendencies can cause our brains to distort the truth and make it even more difficult to break the negative cycle. 
  • Words can change how people perceive reality.
  • Words can also produce anxiety-inducing hormones in people.

These effects are disconcerting, but there is one that raises the most concern: the role that cyberbullying plays in suicidal behavior. A journal published by the British Columbia Ministry of Health finds that there is often a presence of hopelessness and helplessness in people who engage in suicidal behaviors. They also make it clear that any experience of bullying is a stressor that can easily contribute to experiencing these same feelings. 

Additionally, multiple sources attest to the fact that victims of cyberbullying are twice as likely to partake in suicidal behaviors.

Why you should be concerned about cyberbullying

Facts regarding the amount of cyberbullying, along with how it affects victims, are heartbreaking. Regardless of the age, gender, race, or sexual orientation of an individual, bullying in an online setting is inhumane. It is no wonder why people in this world are dealing with self-esteem issues and struggling to find their purpose. 

Furthermore, this study provides clarity that words and actions have power online. In Proverbs, Solomon even claims, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18 NIV). The opportunity for words to pierce like a sword is even greater in an online setting. The absence of body language may distort their tone, and the “permanent” nature of a comment on a post can prevent someone from forgetting them. 

Words are not the only medium that hold power. A lack of likes can hurt someone. One article’s research has indicated that when people make a post, they associate the number of likes it receives with its value to others. The researchers do acknowledge that there are questions about the full extent to which an individual is affected by a sense of purpose in life. However, a sense of purpose can prevent some of the damage to the self-esteem of an individual in spite of the lack of likes. 

Have you been cyberbullied?

The irony here is that a relationship with Jesus makes someone aware of the purpose God created them for, which is the greatest purpose there is. 

According to the Bible, all humans were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). They were perfectly and wonderfully made. Their worth is linked to the fact that God sacrificed and forsook his own Son (who was blameless) to be reconciled and have a relationship with them (Romans 5:8; John 15:13). So, in the eyes of God, every human is worth immensely more than the comment sections might suggest.

Recognize that the people you might be tempted to speak negatively about on social media are worth just as much to God as you are (Psalm 139; 1 Peter 2:9). He created them with intentionality and has a purpose for them. 

What if you have been bullied though? How do you resolve the hurt in your heart? 

Though Jesus did not live on earth during the social media age, his teachings shed light on this. In the most famous sermon he ever preached, Jesus not only commanded his followers to settle disputes with each other, but he also told his audience not to resist their evil (return it back) and to turn the other cheek when they are slapped on one side (Matthew 5:23–25; 5:39).

Was Jesus telling us to willingly be slapped if the situation presents itself? This interpretation seems unlikely. Rather, it seems Jesus was using hyperbole to make the point that we should not retaliate. Instead, we should show love toward the one who wants to hurt us. 

Later in the sermon, he also offers what to do instead of retaliating. In addition to discouraging people from resisting the one who wants to, or has, hurt them, Jesus commands his listeners to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them (Matthew 5 44–45).

Have you been deeply hurt by someone online? 

You might feel the desire to return the pain that they’ve caused. However, it would be better for you to turn your “other cheek” by forgiving them. It is not that this won’t be hard. As Paul Cobb puts it, “A friend of mine reminds me that forgiveness is hard, stinky, and unfair because the injured have to do all the heavy lifting.” 

It will require some “heavy lifting” on your part. But experience has shown that through forgiving others and praying for enemies, God has a full-circle way of healing us in the process.

If you find yourself questioning your worth, remember what the creator of the universe did for the opportunity to be close with you. 

Remember that you exist for the purpose of entering into a relationship with him so God can shower you with his unconditional love. 

Such love is the most fulfilling love there is (John 15:13; 1 John 3:1).

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