Traditional Bullying vs. Cyberbullying

A look at Cyberbullying
defines bullying as: a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.  

Since the boom of technology in the past decade or so, there is an interesting, and sometimes devastating new relationship between technology and bullying.
“The methods used are limited only by the child's imagination and access to technology.” (

Cyberbullying is different from traditional bullying because people can use the disguise of “anonymity” to harass their victims.  One needs only a valid e-mail address to create or participate in groups online, so it is very easy set up “fake” accounts and bully anonymously.  Because anonymous comments and actions aren’t connected to the individuals doing the bullying, they are free to do as they please without repercussions.  Similarly, cyberbullies often choose to target victims who live far away.  They do this because there is a much smaller chance that the victim will be able to hold them accountable.  Bullying can also occur when “blind items” are posted to social networking sites.  Blind items are messages or posts that do not give the name of a person but contain sufficient information for readers to figure out who the post is intended for.

Some major components of the ever-developing issue of CYBERBULLYING are:
  • New social implications - Bullies on the internet can now hide behind their computer screens and false identities; something that traditional playground bullies never could do. Now, victims of bullying through technology may not even know their attacker and many times, a victim of cyberbullying may have many attackers all using a similar technology resulting in a new gang-bullying that can grow to astronomical size very quickly. “Bullies and mean girls have been around forever, but technology has given them a whole new platform for their actions.” (
    Cyberbullying has also created an aspect of fear and censorship for the internet and technological devices (cell phones, iPods, etc). Parents and teachers are continuously revisiting the danger of using technology, allowing children to have their own mobile phones or plans, and the need to monitor their activity much more closely because of the possibility that cyberbullying may be affecting their child, or even coming from their child to someone else.
  • New psychological implications - Traditional bullying has always had an effect on the victim - maybe physical, socially, and most definitely emotionally. With any luck, this traditional bullying may only last during certain years of a child's or teen's school life, or is able to be elminitated by a change in the location of their family. With cyberbullying, the results of bullying can be incredibly long lasting (mostly permanent when online), and has been shown to have traumatic effects on victims including serious psychological damage including anxiety, depression, and other serious stress and emotional related disorders. In some cases, with more seen with every passing year, there are more and more cases of cyberbullying leading to youth and young adult suicide. “UK research (Smith, 2008) found that the effects of cyberbullying were similar to face-to-face bullying, and that some cases...may be worse than face-to-face bullying experiences.  The all-day/all-night potential of cyberbullying can be associated with particularly high distress and negative student outcomes.” (
  • New environments free of many traditional limitations - Unlike traditional "playground" bullying, cyberbullying can be done at any time, from any location, and possibly worst of all, can be completely anonymous. It is not limited to the playgrounds and street corners anymore. Cyberbullying knows no hours, locations, or set medium. This makes for a newly difficult situation for the victim - it can feel like there is no escape. “Bullying online is very different from face-to-face bullying because messages and images can be: Sent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, Shared be shared to a very wide audience, Sent anonymously.” (

So, why Does Cyberbullying Happen? 

And Why Is It So Bad Amongst Adolescents? 

Bullying often occurs when people don’t know how to deal with their emotions in a healthy manner.  They often feel scared, insecure, or powerless.  Sometimes they feel uncomfortable with someone who is “different”.  Sometimes they are fearful of their their own abilities. They may even wish to expose or exploit the weaknesses of others in order to avoid addressing their own weaknesses. Occasionally, people are unaware that their own behaviors could be characterized as bullying.

Adolescents are often involved in cyberbullying because they are going through a transitional period in life and are especially vulnerable to criticism and pressure.  Adolescents are struggling to find themselves amidst a sea of new emotions and physical changes.  They are also exposed to a variety of experiences unique to adult communities.  Because of this, many adolescents seek support and comfort in social groups.  Power struggles are common in these groups, as hierarchy can be important.  Oftentimes, these conflicts and shifts of power involve bullying because the one of the group members feels the need to demonstrate his or her dominance.  Tweens and teenagers tend to see themselves first as part of a group, and as an individual second. That being said, the thoughts and opinions of a social group become quite important to an adolescent who wishes to belong. When a young person is being bullied and then ostracized by a peer group, the young person can be extremely disturbed by this behavior and become fearful that something is “wrong” with him or her. Adolescents may also lack the emotional maturity and life experience to comprehend that what the bully is doing is wrong.

  •  Face to face
  • Anonymous
  •  Schoolyard
  • At school AND at home 
  •  During the school day
  • All day, every day 
  • Smaller audience 
  • Larger, possibly global, audience