Surviving the Cyber Jungle: Cyberbullying and Mental Well-Being

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13 Oct 2023

5 Min Read

Nellie Chan (Editor)

IN THIS ARTICLE

Trek the cyber jungle, track cyberbullying tactics, and learn how to protect your mental well-being. Join the expedition now!

Hey there, cyber adventurers! 

 

As you're well aware, the online terrain ranges far beyond our screens. From friendly chats to virtual classrooms and even digital shopping sprees, we're delving deeper into this vast Internet jungle each day. It's an extraordinary frontier that can enhance our lives in various ways. However, remember that this cyber wilderness has its dangers; one wrong move and someone could get hurt. 

 

Picture this: you've just shared a charming selfie on Instagram or voiced your thoughts on the hottest TikTok trend. It all seems like harmless fun, doesn't it? But out of nowhere, the comments section turns into an ambush of hurtful words and emojis. You're not alone in this experience. Cyberbullying, like the example mentioned, leaves its mark on many. As we commemorate World Mental Health Day, let's embark on an expedition into the realm of cyberbullying, expose its sneaky forms, and explore its effects on our mental well-being. 

What Is Cyberbullying?

In simple terms, it's the use of technology to harm, harass, or embarrass others. It's as if the schoolyard bully has stalked its way online, lurking just a click away. And here's the deal: Cyberbullying is way more common than you might think. According to the Health Ministry, one in five adolescents in Malaysia has been involved in bullying and harassing another online — that must mean an even greater number of adolescents being bullied and harassed!

Unmasking Its Many Faces

Cyberbullying can manifest in many forms and platforms, whether you're on Snapchat, WhatsApp, or Valorant! Here are the typical tactics to be vigilant about:

  • Trolling ('Digital Taunting'): Cyberbullies deliberately post provocative or offensive comments, aiming to incite anger or anguish and bring you down with their negativity.
  • Catfishing ('The Net of Deceit'): Cyberbullies create fake personas, often impersonating you or someone else, to deceive and manipulate others, inflicting damage on your online reputation and relationships.
  • Cyberstalking ('The Digital Shadow'): Have you ever felt like someone's watching your every move online? That's cyberstalking, where cyberbullies obsessively track your online activities, creating an incredibly unsettling experience.
  • Flaming ('Online Infernos'): Online arguments can quickly escalate into wildfires of negativity, with cyberbullies fanning the flames, leaving you caught in the crossfire and distressed by the ordeal.
  • Doxing ('Spilling Secrets'): Cyberbullies maliciously share your private information — your home address, phone number, or personal details — without your consent, exposing you to risks both online and offline.

These are just a few of the tactics used but remember this explorer's rule: If someone's behaviour online makes you feel uncomfortable, troubled, or hurt, you might be experiencing cyberbullying. Trust your instincts!

Contemplating the Hidden Consequences

Let's get real — cyberbullying isn't just a one-off annoyance or disturbance. It can have serious consequences for your mental health.

 

Imagine receiving constant mean and demeaning messages. It's like bearing a heavy burden on your shoulders that weighs you down. It's more than just upsetting; it's emotionally devastating, impacting your self-esteem, self-worth, and overall mental well-being.

 

This emotional turmoil can have long-lasting effects, making it challenging to focus on school, work, or your daily life. Even after the cyberbully moves on, you may still be suffering from the wounds inflicted. That's why discussing this issue is essential!

Woman with hands over eyes crying from blabbering mouths

Seeking Help and Support

When cyberbullying strikes, reach out to someone you trust. Share what you're going through with a friend, a family member, or even a teacher or lecturer. They can offer emotional support and guidance. If it becomes overwhelming, don't hesitate to contact school counsellors or mental health professionals. Anonymous support is also available through helpline numbers and websites. Keep in mind, you don't have to face cyberbullying alone, and there's no shame in asking for help!

Set out to protect the mental well-being of others amid the dense digital jungles with a Foundation in Arts and a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours)!

Protecting Yourself Online

Prevention is the name of the game. Here are some tips to keep cyberbullying at bay:

  • Privacy Settings: Go through your social media accounts and adjust your privacy settings. Keep personal information, like your phone number and home address, locked up tight.
  • Strong Passwords: Don't make it easy for hackers to get into your accounts. Use strong, unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Think Before Posting: Pause before hitting ‘Post.’ Remember that once you post something, it's out there forever. So, make sure it's something you won't regret.

Making a Difference

Now, let's talk action! You can make a difference in the fight against cyberbullying:

  • Support Victims: If you see someone being cyberbullied, show them some love. Reach out, be a friend, and offer your support. Sometimes, just knowing someone cares can make a world of difference.
  • Report Cyberbullying: Most social media platforms and websites have reporting tools. Don't hesitate to use them. Reporting cyberbullying helps take down harmful content and hold the bullies accountable.  
  • Promote Kindness: Spread the message of kindness throughout the digital world. Treat others online the way you'd treat them in person — with respect and empathy. Make your corner of the Internet a place of positivity. 
Hands joining together to form a heart

Conclusion

In the wild jungle of the Internet, cyberbullying is like a thorny vine, ready to entangle us. But we have the power to cut through it with respect, empathy, and kindness. So, go out there, be the careful and caring cyber adventurers you were meant to be, and let's make the Internet a safer space for all. Your mental well-being — and the mental well-being of those around you — depends on it. 

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