Cyberbullying Tactics 2015 is a prevention education article and website page resulting from my research conducted in October 2014, along with input from parents, educators and pediatric professionals. Cyberbullying is one typology included in my Information Age darkside of human consciousness construct. Of the seven typologies, cyberbullying is the only profile that requires the aggressor and target to be minors. For semantic clarity and in all my published works, cyberbullying exclusively remains a pediatric issue until consensus includes all age ranges.
Although I have always conceptualized cyberbullying as applicable to any age range, present running definitions in America restrict cyberbullying to minors. The adult forms of cyberbullying are called cyberstalking, cyber harassment, defamation, libel and slander. Each of these examples of cyber attacks resemble cyberbullying, but have slightly different meanings.
Whatever conditions are given to describe child on child online abuse, the core constructs remain the same and rooted in pediatric needs for power, control and recognition. As you will quickly learn from reading my cyberbullying tactics list, children have designed cyberbullying into both a sinister and industrious science of online abuse and deception. Provided below are 42 types of cyberbullying presently being applied by children in online and offline environments.
From a societal standpoint, cyberbullying continues to flourish infesting the hearts and minds of children, their loved ones and communities on a global scale. Unlike classic bullying, cyberbullying primarily resides within the hidden realm of cyberspace, mobile devices, social networking sites and Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Although cyberbullying is an information technology dependent behavior, it also includes classic bullying, which repeats the primary ways bullying occurred throughout history.
Cyberbullying is an abuse centered interpersonal dynamic that includes aggressors, targets and bystanders. The main developmental issues fueling cyber bullying are peer acceptance, recognition and occasionally retribution. Not all cyberbullying is fueled by dark developmental needs or perceptual distortions, because there are instances when children cyberbully other children due to their ignorance and not maladaptive perceptions.
“Not to say that Pre-Information Age bullied children were not traumatized, but Information Age cyberbullied children are relentlessly tormented 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.”
Different from pre-Information Age bullying, cyberbullying is not bound by physical environments, physical attributes or gender. Causing the “veil of anonymity” afforded by cyberspace, children of the Information Age are no longer limited by the factors that once kept pre-Information Age children from becoming aggressors. In today’s world, a child who has been bullied or cyberbullied is twice as likely to become cyberbullies themselves. Given humanity thrives at the beginning of the Information Age, no one knows how far minors will go to harm their peers in order to be recognized, accepted or seek revenge.
Cyberbullying is a term describing recurrent and sustained verbal and/or physical attacks by one or more children towards another child Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Similar to classic bullying, cyberbullying is harmful, repeated and hostile behavior intended to deprecate another child for reasons other than self-defense. Cyberbullying describes threatening or disparaging communications delivered through ICT that can occur anonymously, publicly or by using felonious identities. Whereas classic bullying typically involves face-to-face interactions and non-digital forms of communication, cyberbullying consists of data exchanged via ICT and may never involve face-to-face meetings.
By definition, classic & cyberbullying occurs among young people. When an adult is involved as the aggressor, it meets criteria for cyber harassment or cyberstalking, which in many states is a criminal act. Although the terms “bullying” and “cyberbullying” includes adult intimidation behaviors in contemporary culture, these describe pediatric behaviors as briefly mentioned above. Like classic bullying, cyberbullying is harmful, repeated and hostile behavior intended to taunt, deprecate & defame a targeted child initiated and sustained by another child or group of children.
With society increasingly becoming reliant upon ICT and as the darkside of cyberspace matures, cyberbullying prevention, acceptable online behaviors and right to privacy issues will require a significant amount of attention and planning. The question to be answered is if cyberbullies, their targets and bystanders will mature differently than those of us who grew up without cyberspace, mobile device technology and social media.
For the benefit of future societies, I hope social scientists of the 22nd century and beyond will one day prove that cyberbullying is no different from classic bullying in relationship to psychological damages lasting throughout adulthood. Although I am hoping cyberbullying will be no different than classic bullying, regarding adult psychopathology, the intellectual regions of my head cannot seem to minimize one profound reality. The reality is how an Information Age cyberbullied child who is taunted, ridiculed and exploited around the clock with no escape can enter adulthood psychodynamically unscathed just as many pre-Information Age cyberbullied children did from history. Offered below is my compilation of cyberbullying tactics, used by minors, to harm and victimize other children.
Bash Boards: Bash Boards are a cyberbullying tactic describing a case of cyber attacks a cyberbully initiates in chat rooms, “virtual” rooms, online forums and message boards. Within these social exchange sites, children disseminate and exchange information they deem important, socially relevant or noteworthy for their peers to view, comment on and share with other peers. These forums are naturally frequented by cyberbullies and affiliated school acquaintances. The reason they give the slang term of Bash Boards is because cyberbullies or any child can post negative and defamatory information about another child that is public for all to read and shared among forum participants.
BlogoBullying: BlogoBullying is a cyberbullying tactic describing when a cyberbully creates a blog with the target child being the central subject and topic of blog posts. Although BlogoBullying is the least frequently used tactic in a cyberbullies cyber attack toolbox, it is by far the most content rich method and can cause long-term injury to the target child when applying for employment and college admissions. Not only does BlogoBullying include defamatory, felonious and humiliating information about the target minor, but with a universal understanding of search engine optimization (SEO) by the cyberbully, their derogatory laden posts can page rank on the first page of Google.
Cyberbullying by Proxy: Cyberbullying by Proxy is a cyberbullying tactic describing a cyberbully who encourages, deceives or persuades other online users to harass a target child. Cyberbullying by proxy is a dangerous kind of cyberbullying in that adults may become accomplices to the cyberbully. For many adult accomplices who are rigged by the primary cyberbully, they do not recognize they are abusing a minor or possibly a child of someone they know. With cyberbullying by proxy, the primary cyberbully will go to any lengths to incite counter attacks and retaliation against the target child. To control others into attacking the target child, cyberbullies use other common tactics to take on their malevolent objectives.
Cyberstalking: Cyberstalking is a cyberbullying tactic that some internet safety professionals feel should not be included with cyberbullying when abiding by the conventional definition of cyberstalking. When hanging on the softer side of the severity spectrum, cyberstalking may be categorized as a cyberbullying tactic when it includes intimidation, vilification and persistent taunting delivered via Information and Communications Technology channels that do not prioritize threatening the target child’s physical safety. Furthermore, it is acceptable to include cyberstalking as a cyberbullying tactic when the cyberbullies methods are not resoundingly communicating physical threats against the target child or anyone the target child is dependent upon in their daily lives.
Cyber Drama: Cyber Drama is a cyberbullying tactic that is a lot more common than moderate to extreme cases of cyberbullying. Cyber Drama tends to be mild cyberbullying or gossip that was not thought to be shared on a social or a “flame war” that terminates after a few messages. Most child and adolescent online users are perceptive about telling each other to refrain and will block a user or open a new account when necessary. Some children engaged in Cyber Drama can be psychologically affected due to their negative perception of the data being passed around. Cyber Drama is best identified as a passive aggressive kind of cyberbullying.
Cyber Harassment: Cyber Harassment is a cyberbullying tactic that describes the sending of hurtful defamatory messages to a target child that is worded in a severe, persistent or pervasive manner. When persistent and disparaging, Cyber Harassment can cause the target child significant distress and undue worry. These threatening messages are hurtful, frequent and very dangerous. Like the adult form of cyber harassment, this cyberbullying tactic requires three or more harassing messages related by the theme of the message sent. As a cyberbullying tactic, Cyber Harassment is both negative in content and frequent in communication.
Cyber Threats: Cyber Threats are a cyberbullying tactic whereby a cyberbully actively engaged in passive aggressive strategies of informing the target child that he or she is in danger from unknown or felonious assailants. Although the term, Cyber Threats, is often equated with Cyber Terrorism, this cyberbullying tactic is based in using threatening or fear provoking information to frighten the target child. The cyberbully who is informing the target child is rarely the alleged child planning the assault. Given the goal of the cyberbully is to inspire fear in the target child, some cyberbullies will feign suicidal ideations and plans to cause the target child tremendous fear.
Denigration: Used in both classic and cyberbullying, denigration is a term describing when cyberbullies send, post, or publishes cruel rumors, gossip and false assertions about a target child intentionally damaging their reputation or friendships. Also known as “dissing,” this cyberbullying method is a common element and layer involved in most all of the cyberbullying tactics listed. The main goal of Denigration is to humiliate & disparage the target child.
Digital Piracy Inclusion: Digital or Internet Piracy is broadly defined as the illegal reproduction and distribution of copyrighted material on the internet using Information and Communications Technology. Although most cyberbullies do not fully understand the legal and criminal implications related to Digital Piracy, they are succinctly aware that it is an online behavior to avoid. As a cyberbullying tactic, the cyberbully encourages the target child to engage in Digital Piracy and then reports them either to the authorities, their parents or educators.
eIntimidation: eIntimidation is a colloquial expression describing a cyberbully tactic used to inspire fear in the target child by communicating threats that may be direct or implied using email as the vehicle of communication. Upon emailing the target child their threat, the cyberbully also informs other members in the peer group of the alleged threat. The cyberbully sends a threatening e-mail to the target child and then forwards or copies and pastes the threatening message to others of the implied menace. If these threats at once or indirectly suggest physical harm, they proceed to the tactic of cyberstalking.
Exclusion (aka, Social Exclusion): Exclusion is a cyberbullying tactic that is highly effective and directly targets a child’s developmental need to feel accepted and part of a social construct. Social exclusion occurs by indirectly sending a harmful message to the target child that they are not included in social activities without the need for verbal deprecation. As it is well-known children and teens are developmentally fixated being recognized by their peers; the process of designating who is a member of the peer group and who is not included can be devastating to the target child.
Exposure: Exposure is a cyberbullying tactic that includes the public display, posting or forwarding of personal communication, images or video by the cyberbully that is personal and private to the target child. Exposure becomes even more detrimental to the target child when the communications posted and displayed publicly contains sensitive personal information or images and video that are sexual in nature. As mobile device technology, images and video becomes more commonplace, the tactic of Exposure is certain to become prevalent.
Flaming: Flaming is a cyberbullying tactic defined as an online passionate argument that frequently includes profane or vulgar terminology. These online arguments occur in public communication environments for peer bystanders to see. These environments include discussion panels and groups, chat rooms, and newsgroups. Flaming may have features of a normal message, but its intent is designed differently and flamers endeavor to maintain their power or establish a posture of dominance asserted against a target child.
Griefing: Griefing is a term used to describe when a cyberbully habitually and chronically causes frustration to the target child and his/her peers by not following the rules of an interactive online video game and intentionally disrupting the immersion of another player in their gameplay. Not specific to cyberbullying, “Griefing” is often a tactic used in interactive video games and used by both cyberbullies and adults engaging in cyber harassment. Similar to Internet Trolls, cyberbullies work in teams to target a child.
Happy Slapping: Happy Slapping is a comparatively new type of cyberbullying that integrates the rapid increase of online videos with classic bullying. This occurs when a target child or unsuspecting victim is physically attacked or embarrassed in person and then an accomplice video records or takes pictures of the incident. The image or video is then posted online at video and social networking sites for public use. With the widespread growth of mobile device technology, Happy Slapping is a cyberbullying tactic likely to grow.
Non-Consensual Multimedia Bullying: The usage of images and video as a cyberbullying tactic has become a rising fear that many communities, law enforcement authorities, and schools are taking seriously. Images and videos of the target child are emailed to peers, while others are published on video sites such as YouTube. The main aim of this maneuver is to humiliate and disparage the target child. As the term denotes, this cyberbullying tactic is non-consensual and the target child either has not given consent or does not know the images or videos are being disseminated. (i.e. Keek, Snapchat, Instagram, Ask.fm)
Impersonation: Impersonation or “impinge” as a tactic in cyberbullying can only happen with the “veil of anonymity” offered by Information and Communications Technology. Cyberbullies impersonate the target child and make unpopular online comments on social networking sites, forums, message tables and in chat rooms. Using impersonation, cyberbullies also set up internet sites that include vitriolic information leading to the target child being ostracized or victimized in more classic bullying ways. Often times, the target child is unaware of these events until the tactic has been designed and implemented.
Instant Messaging Attacks: Instant Messaging is a type of communications service that enables online users to create a private chat room with another individual. Cyberbullies use IM to send harassing and threatening messages to the target child themed with disparaging information. IM has become a very big portion of the social life of child and adolescent online users. The conversations and conflicts that arise online often give rise to behaviors that are acted out in person during school or at the local shopping mall.
Interactive Gaming Harassment: Interactive games on online gaming devices allow children to communicate by chat and live Internet phone with others they are matched with online. Having the ability to exchange information with gaming opponents and fellow peers; cyberbullies verbally abuse others, use threatening and profane language, lock others out of games, pass false information about others. Depending on their computer shrewdness, cyberbullies can also hack into the target child’s accounts. Given the competitive nature of online gaming, children are often unaware of being targeted until fellow players and peers bring the cyberbullying to their attention.
Malicious Code Dissemination: Sending malicious code is a cyberbullying tactic whereby malicious information is sent intentionally to a target child to damage or harm their ICT. Many cyberbullies will send viruses, spyware and hacking programs to a target child that can be very pricey to fix. The routine of sending malicious code as a cyberbullying tactic is commonly set aside for children and adolescents advanced in ICT. As Information Age children become more adept with information technology, the tactic of sending malicious codes will become more frequent in the cyberbullies arsenal of online assaults.
Micro-Visual Bullying: Micro-Visual Bullying is a communication channel that is a future cyberbullying tactic trend. With the increase and expansion of Mobile Device Technology and Smartphones that are mobile and image/video enabled, children will soon become enveloped by the new boom of what has been termed video. Just as Twitter restricts users to text 140 characters, Viddy users are restricted to 15-second video clip recordings to sharing with peers. Given that cyberbullies have become enamored by the speed and dissemination of Twitter, 15-second visual images and video are likely to become the new trend in traumatizing vulnerable children.
Mobile Device Image Sharing: Not just a tactic used in cyberbullying, but a pattern of information exchange that can be a criminal act if the pictures are pornographic or graphic enough depicting under aged children. Children can receive images directly on their phones and then send them to everyone in their address books. Some children actually post these images on video sites, their social networking profiles and other programs for anyone to download or view. With the development and widespread usage of mobile device technology, this cyberbullying tactic will become dominant.
Password Theft & Lockout: A cyberbully steals the target child’s password and begins to chat with other people, pretending to be the target child (a.k.a. Impersonation.) Confident that others think he/she is the target child, they begin to communicate provocative and adversarial messages that are offensive and anger the target child’s friends or strangers. In addition to impersonating the target child, the cyberbully locks out the target child from his/her accounts by changing his/her password. Without having access to his/her username or email account, the target child is unable to shut down or prove he/she is not the culprit spreading the vitriolic information.
Phishing: Phishing is a cyberbully tactic that requires tricking, persuading or manipulating the target child into revealing personal and/or financial information about themselves and/or their loved ones. Once the cyberbully acquires this information, they begin to use the information to access their profiles if it may be the target child’s password. Phishing, also includes purchasing unauthorized items with the target child’s or parents’ credit cards.
Porn & Marketing List Insertion: A frustrating and embarrassing tactic committed by cyberbullies is signing the target child up with numerous pornography and/or junk marketing e-mailing and instant messaging marketing lists. By doing this, the target child receives hundreds of e-mails and instant messages from pornography sites and advertising companies. Often times, the target child’s parents are made aware of these pornographic emails, assume their child signed up for receipt of pornographic information and punish them without due process.
Pseudonym Stealth: A pseudonym is a nickname cyberbullies use when they are online as opposed to when offline. They do this to keep their real identity a secret from the target child. When using instant messaging services like MSN Messenger or Yahoo Messenger, an online user has a nickname they have chosen. Cyberbullies use this same feature to change their name to something that a target child would not expect. Having a nickname, then the cyberbully proceeds to taunt, tease and humiliate the target child without the ability of the target child to know their identity.
Screen Name Mirroring: Screen Name Mirroring is a cyberbullying tactic used against a target child by constructing a screen name or user name that is very similar to the target child’s name. The name may have additional or removed letters, numbers or combinations of the two to appear the same as the target child’s screen name. With Screen Name Mirroring, the cyberbully uses screen names and user names almost identical to the target child’s requiring the respondent of the information to be attentive in differentiating the minor differences.
Sexting: Sexting is the slang term for the use of a cell phone or other Information and Communications Technologies to distribute images or videos of a sexually explicit nature. It can also refer to text messages of a sexually charged theme. Sexting is both a sexually oriented form of communication and a cyberbullying tactic. As a cyberbullying tactic, the cyberbully creates and/or disseminates sexually themed information about the target child that is both highly embarrassing and humiliating.
Sextortion: Sextortion is a cyberbullying tactic by which children exploit other children for sex and/or sexually themed activities in exchange for not disclosing embarrassing and humiliating information about the target child. If the target child does not submit to their sexual directives, they threaten to disclose sensitive information to loved ones, employers, educators, peers or organizations if the victim does not submit to their demands.
Slut Shaming: Slut Shaming is a cyberbullying tactic primarily targeting a female. A form of sexual cyberbullying, Slut Shaming occurs when a cyberbully records images or videos of the target child that can easily be construed as sexually provocative. Often times, the images and video used to shame the target child have been captured without the child’s consent or knowledge. Once these images and videos have been obtained, the cyberbully publishes this information throughout the school and within social networking sites.
Social Media Bullying: Social Media Bullying is a tactic used by which the cyberbully persuades the target child to include them in their “friends” or “buddy” lists and then begins to contact the target child’s friends, peers and loved ones disseminating disparaging information about the target child. The cyberbully will also encourage the target child to accept the cyberbullies accomplices on their “friends” or “buddy” lists without the target child knowing the cyberbullies true motivations.
Text Wars and Text Attacks: Text Wars and Text Attacks are cyberbullying tactics when the cyberbully and a group of his/her accomplices’ gang up on the target child by sending hundreds of emails or text messages. Besides the emotional toll it can take on the target child, their cell phone charges may escalate causing parental admonishment. Text Wars and Text Attacks are cyberbullying tactics that encourage other children to engage in harmful behaviors against the target child.
Tragedy News Mirroring: Local/National Tragedy Mirroring is a cyberbullying tactic whereby a cyberbully threatens a target child that he/she will allege that the target child is planning and preparing to engage in a violent activity directed at the targeted child’s school or community. Using Information and Communications Technology, the cyberbully disseminates felonious information to the target child’s peers and loved ones that he/she is planning a violent attack.
Trickery: Trickery (aka, Hoodwinking) is a tactic similar to phishing in that a cyberbully purposely tricks a target child into divulging secrets, private information and/or embarrassing information about themselves and then publishes that information online. Like phishing, Trickery requires the target child to have some element of trust or respect for the cyberbully by agreeing to post sensitive information about them thinking the cyberbullies rationale will be beneficial and/or positive. With this tactic, the target child is led to believe the sensitive information they consensually give the cyberbully will somehow be presented in a positive light.
Trolling: Trolling is the pediatric cyberbullying method of what has been termed, Internet Troll. Internet Trolls are often adults who disparage and harass unidentified online users, but the cyberbullying troll knows the identity of the target child. They appear in all forms of online mediums ranging from online video gaming gatherings, chat rooms and forum discussions. In cases where the cyberbully has a personal relationship with the target child, the cyberbully provokes the child into reactionary behaviors.
Twitter Pooping: Twitter Pooping is a colloquial expression used to define the cyberbullying tactic of using Tweets to disparage and humiliate a target child. Given that Tweets are restricted to 140 characters, Twitter Pooping tends to be frequent insults and provocations that often use “net lingo” to fit the harmful message the cyberbully is attempting to convey. Because Tweets can be disseminated in a rapid and hidden manner, cyberbullies are using this method of taunting at greater rates. If the Tweet is creatively and skillfully designed, the cyberbully will receive accolades on their skillful use of “net lingo”.
Virtual World Bullying: Virtual World Bullying are 3D online sites where users are encouraged to design their own avatars (the figures that represent them in the virtual world), explore and create their own environments are becoming increasingly popular. Virtual worlds can be used to explore and bring to life a range of topics such as recreating ancient cities or building virtual prototypes. Using their avatar, a cyberbully engages in the same types of taunting and provocations, but uses his/her avatar within the virtual environment the target minor is playing.
VLE Bullying: VLE or Virtual Learning Environments schools now use software that creates a site specially designed for education, called a Virtual Learning Environment (or VLE). Programs such as Moodle allow school staff to set assignments, tests and activities and to track their students’ progress. A VLE might only be available from the school network, or might be accessible from any internet connection (i.e. from home). Although most students are tracked, cyberbullies can still use the VLE message boards, chat rooms and instant messaging functions to ridicule a target minor.
Voting & Polling Booth Bullying: Some websites offer online users the opportunity to create online polling/voting booths that are free of charge and easy to post. Cyberbullies use these websites to create web pages that allow others to vote online for categories that are deemed highly embarrassing by the target child. Examples of voting and polling include the ugliest, fattest, dumbest, more sexually promiscuous and a plethora of other deprecating attributes. The primary purpose of this cyberbullying tactic is to encourage group consensus by encouraging peers to engage in disparaging the target child.
Warning Wars: Internet Service Providers (ISP) offer a way for consumers to report an online user who is posting inappropriate or abusive information. As a tactic used in cyberbullying and harassment, children engage in “warning wars” by making false allegations to the ISP regarding the target child posting inappropriate information. By doing this frequently enough, often times the target child has their profile and/or account suspended by the ISP. Concurrent with this tactic, the cyberbully informs the target child’s parents causing additional admonishment.
Web Page Assassination: This is a tactic whereby the cyberbully creates websites that insult or endanger the target child. The cyberbully creates, designs, and posts web pages specifically designed to insult the target child, their peers or groups of people who share similar characteristics as the target child such as their race, religion or sexual orientation. Although website creation has become an easy task with contemporary information technology software, many cyberbullies have acquired skills enabling them to create websites that are both appealing to viewers, but presenting the target child in a negative light.
YouTube Channeling: YouTube Channeling is a cyberbullying tactics in which the target minor becomes the central character in a YouTube Channel. Therefore, as long as the cyberbully (s) does not breach YouTube’s Community Guidelines, the content of the video clips and posted content can be quite defamatory. Being the target of a defamatory YouTube Channel, the target minor is taunted by both the content of the videos posted and the number of views online users have viewed. In addition to the number of views used to humiliate the minor, the comments made by others can be very malicious.
Children of the 21st century are targeted via classic bullying, cyberbullying, or a combination of the two. Although cyberbullying is a rapidly growing societal epidemic, classic bullying (aka physical bullying) will remain part of the bullying arena. Given the evolution of digital technology and growth of the internet, cyberbullying has reached epidemic proportions among the pediatric segments of society and has become a permanent weapon in the bully’s toolbox. At the core of all bullying, cyber and classic, are victimization, disparagement and abuse of a targeted child. Child abuse, whether perpetrated by a child or adult, is detrimental to all aspects of pediatric development, following them into adulthood and throughout their lifespan.
Given humanity is at the beginning of the Information Age, it is vital for all communities to address the use and abuse of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) by children harming other children. What is not apparent and will not be available for 2-3 decades to follow are the cyberbullies who enter adulthood with the ability to harm others using ICT. Prior to the Information Age, classic bullies grew up, became adults and most lead non-violent and productive lives. The question remains is if today’s cyberbullies will develop into adults the same as classic bullies or will they bring with them the tactics and methods they used as children, but applied to the adult environments of cyberspace.
“Cyberspace may be an abstract electronic universe and virtual illusion, but cyberbullying is real to children of the Information Age who are tormented and ridiculed 24/7/365.”