Timely Topics

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

People are social distancing and many are staying home, which means more people are communicating via their computers, tablets and cell phones. Unfortunately, all of this digital communication can create and cultivate negativity. This week’s timely topic that may be helpful both at home and in your role at a church or organization is cyberbullying.

Technology provides incredible opportunities for people to learn, connect, create, and collaborate in ways never before imagined. Unfortunately, this cyberworld and its digital forums and platforms have become the point of origin for cyberbullying.

Unlike face-to-face or in-person bullying, cyberbullying exists in the non-physical world of cyberspace. And, though it has no tangible or physical presence, cyberbullying has profound real-life consequences for its victims, bystanders, families, friends, and even the cyberbullies themselves.

Though they may be more subtle than those of physical bullying, there are many signs that a person is being cyberbullied. Often, these signs are similar to those for traditional bullying.

Someone may be experiencing cyberbullying if he or she:

  • Appears upset after using the computer or being online
  • Appears upset after viewing a text message on a cell phone
  • Communicates sadness, moodiness, or anxiety
  • Refuses to attend school (which can lead to suspension)
  • Withdraws from or shows a lack of interest in social activities
  • Experiences decline in academic performance
  • Shows changes in social relationships
  • Expresses distrust of established friendships or others at school
  • Experiences sleeplessness
  • Changes eating patterns
  • Shows signs of depression
  • Exhibits low self-esteem or feeling of worthlessness
  • Loses interest in life and activities
  • Feels helpless
  • Expresses fear, including fear for his or her life
  • Loses sense of trust in others
  • Communicates excessive self-criticism and/or self-blame
  • Expresses social anxiety
  • Demonstrates self-harm
  • Shows reduced concentration or the inability to complete tasks or projects
  • Expresses suicidal ideation and/or conversations

The effect and consequences of cyberbullying can be every bit as serious as with traditional bullying, and electronic aggression can be perpetrated 24 hours a day, allowing no escape for the victim.

It can dominate the victim’s world, causing him or her to lose sight of talents, abilities, dreams, and life’s positive aspects.

This information has been excerpted from the CongregationU online course “Cyberbullying.” This 30-minute course can be purchased for just $12 per learner.