Cyber bullying occurs when someone uses computers, cell phones, or the Internet to hurt or embarrass you. It’s the cause of several teen suicides and an increasing problem for adults.
It's a relatively new internet safety concern. Children can become the target of online attacks as early as second grade. Boys are usually the first to experiment with online attacks, but most perpetrators are girls in middle school and afterwords.
Attacks against adults are most often called cyber stalking, and the consequences can be quite severe. Cyber stalkers will attempt to ruin other adults’ lives or careers by posting fake or misleading information online.
Young children usually start by sending mean messages to other children. When they get caught, they don’t necessarily stop—instead, they learn to disguise their online identities using fake email or instant messaging accounts.
As the children grow older, their attacks become more sophisticated. Instead of sending mean messages directly to their victim, the attacker will begin to pose as the victim on forums or social media sites, revealing often-fake embarrassing information.
Attackers might then use image or video editing software to create reputation-ruining pictures or YouTube videos. Even worse, the attacker may post online a child’s personal information like telephone number or address online so that pedophiles and other dangerous criminals can find it. It's something not even the best security software can protect you from.
Unscrupulous adults have also been attacking their fellow adults online in increasing numbers during the past decade. The Internet makes it possible to attack another person anonymously, eliminating the consequences of bad actions.Unfortunately, employers and romantic partners have also been turning to the Internet in increasing numbers for research into their potential employees and dates, meaning that someone who pretends to be you online can ruin your career, your love life, or both.
As cyber bullying becomes a major problem, some U.S. states and several European nations have proposed or passed laws against the practice, but many commentators think these laws will have little effect when so many attackers do their mischief using anonymous accounts.
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