Cyberbullying’s Impact on Both Society and Security

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In my last piece, I broke down the who, what, and how of cyberbullying, as most people are unaware of how the problem actually takes a variety of forms. With multiple types of cyberbullies and methods for digital bullying impacting kids today, the phenomenon’s effect on society is nothing short of powerful. In fact, according to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying. The problem affects many and has many ramifications, both on society and the way we approach security. Let’s take a look.

Side Effects of Cyberbullying

The victims of cyberbullying will likely never view the internet the same way again, as their digital identities could be potentially damaged by aggressive online attacks. If subject to cyberbullying, it’s likely a victim’s online identity will reshape entirely.

But beyond that, the most blatant and concerning effect of cyberbullying is how it can impact the victim’s mental health. Faced with a constant barrage of insults and harassment, the victims of cyberbullying often grapple with negative thoughts, insecurity, and even depression after their attacks occur. In fact, according to Penn State, 30% of individuals who were cyberbullied turned toward self-harming behaviors and began having suicidal thoughts.

The digital impact not only extends to the mental sphere, but to the physical one too. Beyond changing someone’s digital identity and mental health state, cyberbullying can also cause kids to change schools and families to relocate. 

Securing Both the Digital and the Physical

With cyberbullying’s impact extending so far past the digital plane, that means it also changes the way we approach securing innocent internet users everywhere from cyberbullying. But with cyberbullying giving old schoolyard bullies a new playing field, we’re all now faced with the conundrum – how do you prevent both the digital and physical ramifications of the issue?

Now, it can be challenging to prevent cyberbullying from having mental and physical effects on victims. For parents whose kids have been subject to cyberbullying, there are quite a few hotlines and online resources available. Additionally, my previous blog outlined a few talking points parents can cover off in order to weave cybersecurity into their family’s dialogue.

As for the digital, there are a handful of tools consumers can equip themselves with set up preventative measures and secure their family’s devices from malicious online activity. Family safety solutions like McAfee Safe Family can help parents set rules and time limits for apps and websites, as well as see what their kids are doing online. There are also tools like McAfee WebAdvisor, which can help prevent kids from entering any sites where malicious characters or content live.

For parents, educators, or even law enforcement, it can be a struggle to comprehend the issues that stem from cyberbullying, let alone have effective means to deal with it. Accurate prevention is possible, but there doesn’t seem to be enough tools, methods, or measures to get there yet.

Therefore, we must all step up and look into the right research and technology required to stop cyberbullying. Only then will both the digital and physical worlds be free of the effects of these nasty online bullies.

To learn more about family safety and our approach to it, be sure to follow us at @McAfee and @McAfee_Home.

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