Cyberbullying Vs. Traditional Bullying

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Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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Many studies show that cyberbullying and traditional bullying are much different from each other. They also say that one is worse than the other, but just how different are they? Many teens think that what they are posting or texting is a joke, but think if you would be on the receiving end. If the social media “joking”, continues it later becomes classified as cyberbullying. Cyberbullying and traditional bullying may have their differences, but they both are just as painful to others, but what one is said to be worse? Cyberbullying is said to be the most common type of bullying.

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The University of British Columbia survey states that 25-30 percent of young people have either participated in cyberbullying or received it (“Phycological, Physical, and Academic”).

Only 12 percent have said the same about traditional bullying. Since cyberbullying is more common, it’s worse and creates even more problems. To top off of these issues, 95 percent of young people said what was online was meant to be a joke. Only 5 percent truly meant what they said. So what really makes cyberbullying and traditional bullying different? Traditional bullying deals with a victim or bystander, whereas cyberbullying is only online. Traditional bullying is also said to be planned out and is pre-meditated upon. Cyberbullying happens by the circumstance and doesn’t wait to plan the next attack. Traditional bullying deals with a need for power and control. The bully needs to feel power while in his actions. Also, the bully strategically plans out their next victim and attack them. They show a lot of aggression, as part of their way to control the situation (“Cyberbullying and Traditional Bullying: Differences”). Now you might be asking, what is cyberbullying? By definition, it is said to be the deliberate and repeated harm inflicted through the use of phones, computers, and other electronic devices (“What is Cyberbullying?”).This is an easier way of bullying because it keeps from face-to-face interaction. Many teens become disoriented while looking at a screen and say things they would never say in public. In addition to this, without being able to see their reactions to the comments, the commenter doesn’t realize if they’ve gone too far. In today’s society, comments might be meant as a joke but the question is, “who’s laughing?” Teens don’t realize if they’ve gone too far, and they need to realize the harm they can inflict on others.

Just imagine that someone gets a text from a friend to check out an instagram page, this person goes there to see degrading posts and a crude picture of herself in a swimsuit that had been photoshopped. Following the posts are a string of rude comments. She starts getting text after text from people, some she doesn’t even know, saying mean things about the post. It feels as though the world is laughing at her, but only she isn’t. She dreads going to school the next day because she has to face these people. Her stomach is churning and her head is pounding. She prays it will just go away like it never happened. She has just entered into the world of a victim. Something that started out as a joke is now a more serious and harmful issue. Rumors can easily get spread through the use of phones, computers, and other electronic devices. This is an easy, but scary way to bully. One wrong click has the power to change someone’s life forever. Teaching teens to protect themselves online is very important. Teaching them how to use a car is similar to teaching them how to use technology. The logic is that no one would turn a teen lose with the keys to the car if that teen hasn’t been properly trained or educated to operate a vehicle, why? Because it’s dangerous! This person could kill themself or someone else. Everyone should realize that the cyber world also possesses dangers.

The internet highway can be dangerous if teens post inappropriate material, bully, give out personal information to strangers, etc. Teens must be educated about how to use technology appropriately. Just like no one would toss the car keys at an inexperienced teen and tell him or her to go take a spin, no one should place a smartphone or any other electronic device with internet capability in his or her hands without making sure that they know how to use it properly. So, what is traditional bullying? It can be physical, and it is far more common that boys use this form than girls. Physical bullying is generally not the most prevalent type. Physical bullying is rarely silent, making verbal harassment an issue as well. The most common form of traditional bullying is malicious teasing, and it is used by both boys and girls. Exclusion by freezing out is the third type, and it is relatively speaking mostly used by girls. Another important aspect of traditional bullying is whether it is open or hidden. In open bullying, the signs are clear to the victim and others present, while hidden bullying is the use of camouflaged or ambiguous characters. Bullying among girls is often presented in hidden characters, but not always (“Traditional Bullying”).

Now you may be asking yourself, which one is worse? As a result of the many surveys that were taken regarding this topic, cyberbullying is said to be the worse type of bullying. The things said online can cut the receiver deeply and wouldn’t realize the harm you have caused. Cyberbullying keeps from face-to-face interaction. This can cause a lot of damage to those who receive the comment because the commenter can’t see the receiver’s reaction. Therefore he/she doesn’t know when he/she has gone “too far”(“Which is Worse”). Being the victim of bullying, including cyberbullying, is associated with significant short- and long-term mental and physical health issues and academic achievement problems. Like traditionally bullied youth, cyberbullied youth report higher levels of depression and anxiety, emotional distress, suicidal ideation and attempts, poorer physical health, and externalizing problems such as increased delinquency and substance abuse than their non bullied peers. A dose-response effect is commonly found between being cyberbullied and the severity of its consequences—youth who are bullied the most are the ones who suffer the most. When cyberbullying is compared to traditional bullying, negative outcomes appear to be worse for the victims of cyberbullying.

Using data from a total population survey of Swedish adolescents aged 15 to 18 years and controlling for exposure to traditional bullying, Luftman found that being the victim of cyberbullying was associated with poorer subjective physical health. That is, cyberbullied youth were more likely to have headaches, stomach aches, poor appetites, and sleep disturbances than their non bullied peers. Perren found a unique association between being the victim of cyberbullying and poor outcomes. In their study of Swiss and Australian teens, they found that cyberbullying explained a significant amount of unique variance in depression when controlling for exposure to traditional forms of bullying. In another study, Bonanno reported that cyberbullying was independently associated with Canadian adolescents’ suicidal ideation and depressive symptomatology. Schneider compared cyberbullying and traditional bullying in relation to psychological distress in a large study of 20,406 American high school students. Results indicated that students who were both cyberbullied and bullied at school fared the worst on all outcomes examined—depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, self-injury, suicide attempt, and suicide attempt requiring medical treatment. However, they also found that the negative effects of cyberbullying were greater than the effects of traditional bullying.

For example, cyberbullied youth were 3.44 times more likely to have attempted suicide compared to non bullied youth, whereas traditionally bullied youth were 1.63 times more likely to attempt suicide than non bullied peers. In a recent meta-analysis, in which Geel examined the relations between traditional bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide among children and adolescents, cyberbullying was more strongly associated with suicidal ideation than traditional bullying. Finally, in a rare longitudinal study examining the effects of cyberbullying over time, Machaut investigated whether cyber bullying was an additional risk factor in depression beyond the risk of being traditionally bullied by peers. Swiss seventh-grade students were assessed twice in 6 months. Controlling for prior symptoms of depression and traditional bullying, results indicated that higher rates of cyberbullying victimization predicted an increase in depression symptoms over time (“Effects of Bullying”). How do we prevent bullying? Despite decades of study and numerous programs claiming to be the solution to bullying, few programs have actually been shown to be effective. One of the main issues is that “bullying prevention” is often a misnomer; instead of trying to stop the behavior before it begins, the focus of many programs is on reducing already high rates of bullying. By the time students enter sixth grade, the earliest grade for which nationally representative data is collected, nearly 28 percent report having been targeted in the past year. For younger children, data is far more limited but suggestive.

The National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence found that 20.4 percent of children ages 2-5 had experienced physical bullying in their lifetime and 14.6 percent had been teased (“Psychological, Physical, and Academic”). When preventing bullying, you need to influence your kids younger to prevent it. The parents need to be aware of the situation and know that it can happen to any kid. They need to have a good impact on their kids’ relationships with friends and know that they have good friends they can trust. Most bullying starts when they are very young, so teach them how to avoid it young (“How to Prevent Bullying”). Always remember too, “think before you click.” Cyber bullying might be worse than traditional bullying, but they both have just as bad of impacts on the victim. Think about the harm you are causing someone else, and treat someone as you would want to be treated. Remember that one wrong click has the power to change someone’s life forever. Be aware of the situation you are getting yourself into, and be responsible with your phone and other electronic devices.

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Cyberbullying vs. Traditional Bullying. (2019, Aug 30). Retrieved from