Although similar to “traditional” bullying in terms of form and technique, cyberbullying is immensely different from “old school” bullying and can be even more devastating.
For starters, victims in many cases do not know who the bully is, or why they are being bullied. Cyberbullies hide behind a computer screen and maybe even behind a false identity so that they will not be discovered, giving them a further sense of control over the situation as the victim feels more helpless.
Secondly, the hurtful actions of a cyberbully are viral. When someone is cyberbullied, others on the same medium can know about it instantaneously, and those others will spread the word, humiliating the victim even more than he/she already was by the bully. A large number of people can be involved in a cyber-attack, which makes the victim feel that everyone knows about it, further complicating the situation for the victim.
Thirdly, it is often easier to be cruel using technology than to be so face to face. This is because the bully does not have to see the immediate reaction of the target. Some teens don’t recognize the harm they are causing because they are sheltered from the victim’s response. So although a bully in school may be reluctant to say something cruel to someone else, when they are online, that hesitation just isn’t there.
And lastly, many adults don’t have the technological know-how to keep track of what teens are up to online. A victim’s experience may be missed and a bully’s action may be left unchecked. Many adults, even after they identify bullies, find themselves unprepared to adequately respond.
So although cyberbullying may seem like regular bullying, there are many significant differences that may make cyberbullying even more dangerous than regular “traditional” bullying.