There are many definitions of cyberbullying. Quite simply, cyberbullying is “Willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones and other electronic devices.”
- willful: the actions are deliberate, not accidental
- repeated: there is a pattern of behavior, not just one isolated incident
- harm: the target feels hurt or humiliated
- computer, cell phones and other electronic devices: this is what makes it cyberbullying and not bullying††
Cyberbully: an individual or group that uses information and communication involving electronic technologies to deliberately and repeatedly harass or threaten another individual or group. In cyberspace, bullies can easily (and sometimes anonymously) say and do mean and inappropriate things with just the click of a button. Cyberbullies don’t have to be more physically or socially powerful than their victims. They may use fictitious names to create online social networking and email accounts, which they then use to cyberbully others. For example, in 2006, a 16-year-old boy connected with a 13-year-old-girl via MySpace.com. Over time, the online relationship became flirtatious until the boy turned mean, calling the girl names and suggesting the world would be better off without her. The young girl was deeply hurt and ultimately hanged herself in her bedroom closet. It turned out that the “boy” was, in reality, a virtual identity created by a 47-year-old woman in the neighborhood, who allegedly wanted to find out how the young girl felt about her daughter.