So you probably see the terms ‘cyberbully’ and ‘cyber-stalker’ used quite frequently around here. I would’ve gone on using them as they are if not for an email I received earlier from a concerned mum of 2.
“My son is being cyber-stalked by his classmates, too,” she wrote “He’s been getting lots of hurtful messages on his Twitter feed.”
And that’s when I realized—aw shucks. I’ve led my readers to believe that the two are interchangeable words. Because yeah, the son is being cyberbullied. But that’s slightly different from being cyber-stalked. So consider this an emergency blog, because I need to get a few things straight.
First, you should know that yeah, in essence, cyberbullying, cyber-harassment and cyber-stalking are all the same. Because they all include one form or the other of…
- Insults or degradation
- Threat to harm
- Spreading rumors or defamation
- Identity theft
- Constant provocation
…in one form or the other. So what it is that sets them apart? Short answer: age.
It is generally believed that when both parties are minors, the act would be considered cyberbullying. If one or both sides of the act are adults, then we’ve touched the cyber-stalking or cyber-harassment territory. Now in this case, I suppose we should be more concerned about when your kids face online predators, because that would be straight up cyber-stalking that you would need to report right away.
And I understand that yes, many times it is going to be difficult for you to tell the minors apart from the adults on the internet. What makes this even scarier is the fact that a lot of these predators pretend to be teenagers when looking for their prey, especially when they’re looking for sexual exploitation. And like we’ve discussed many times before, kids don’t have the judgment or the foresight that parents have about these things. Which is why you’ll need a means to keep an eye on their online communications so you yourself can judge if your kid is in serious danger or not. You should be looking out for…
- The nature of messages
- The frequency of communication
- The exchange of personal information
…that your kid is receiving and you’ll have a good gauge of the kind of trouble they are in. If you find something suspicious, block their communication with your kid right away. It might be difficult to report someone who is anonymous, but if you do find out who they are, report them right away.
Another thing that a cyber-stalker would do that your everyday cyberbully would not is that they would know all the times you come online. They would find out all the social media outlets on which you are available and bug you on every single one of them.
So here’s what we’ve learnt:
A cyberbully is minors going after minors. Cyber-stalking or cyber-harassment means that there is an adult involved. Hopefully, you’ll now have some context when we delve into this matter the next time. Till then, give this infographic by Venture Break a look to get more perspective.