Communication between young people is often concealed from adults. They want to be able to communicate with their friends in a space that isn’t influenced by adults and technology affords them this privacy. This sense of invisibility is keenly felt by children and teens online where they are increasingly communicating in ways that are unknown to adults and free from their supervision.
Being online affords young people the anonymity that the internet provides. The main difference between writing a nasty message on the back of a school book and posting it on the internet is message posted online can potentially be seen by a very wide audience almost instantly. The message can remain available on the internet even if it is later taken down from the site.
Children and teens posting messages on the internet tend not to feel as responsible for their online actions as they would in a face to face situation. They often don’t fear being punished for their actions. This type of behaviour is often outside of the reach of schools as it happens outside school hours on home computers or via mobile phones.
Young people are often afraid of telling others about being bullied because they worry that the bullying may get worse if they tell.They are also concerned if they report incidents their parents will take away their mobile phone, computer and internet access.
In the majority of cases, cyber bullies know their targets, but their victims don’t always know the person bullying them. This can cause the victim to feel very isolated in school groups, clubs or settings as they can begin to distrust all their peers.
Communication technology is readily available and widespread. As a result, cyberbullying can happen at any time and any place which means victims of cyberbullying may no longer feel safe at home.