Cyber bullying has increased its spread rapidly in recent years, where it involves the use of cell phones, instant messaging, e-mail, chat rooms or social networking sites to harass threaten or intimidate someone. Often carried out by children and teenagers who have increasingly early access to these technologies, the act of cyberbullying are carried out against individuals or groups of individuals with a bullying motive to intentionally harm the reputation of the victim or cause physical or mental harm, or loss, to the victim directly or indirectly, or just simple intention of teasing a friend using modern telecommunication networks.
A study conducted at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura revealed the inroads of cyberbullying among young university adults. The study was designed to distinguish patterns of cyberbullying activities at the university level (1) in order to identify what causes bullying and determine how to deal with bullying acts. Fifty-five students ages 20-25 from four Sri Lankan universities participated in the study.
Results showed that,
– Approximately 90% of students had suffered from cyberbullying
– Almost all survey participants said they knew people who had been bullied online
– 80% of cyberbullying offenses took place on social media with Facebook being the most common bullying site
– The most prevalent bullying offense among university students was the posting of embarrassing videos or photos (65%); posting private information of victims on the web was second (15%) followed by spreading gossip or lies (9%) and posting insults (2%)
In light of this Etisalat Lanka has identified that this behaviour in the cyber space is turning in to a social issue causing serious damage to future generation. During a recent forum held at Colombo Etisalat called to attention the impact cyber-bullying has on teenagers and young adults and how it could potentially be controlled. The forum was moderated by Etisalat Lanka Director Customer Experience Romesh de Mel with the participating panellists: Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Readiness Team | Co-ordination Centre (Sri Lanka CERT|CC) CEO Lal Dias, Etisalat Lanka Director Marketing YarthavMathiaparanam and Amaya Suriyapperuma (Wonder Woman Cosplayer) deliberating over the issue.
Most social media platforms follow a very defensive method – Report, Block and Inform. But that may never change the behaviour of the bullying or offer console to the victim. Many of the victims had experienced cyberbullying initially as teens. The average age for first time cyberbullying victims was between 16 and 19 years old. For many students, online bullying activities carried over into their university years. Most students reported being bullied from 1-3 times, after which they put measures in place to reduce the risk of being targeted, i.e. privacy settings, blocking trouble makers, etc. In extreme cases there have been instances where the victim had committed suicide. The psychological impact is so heavy that they go to the extreme of taking their own lives.