Mobile Bullying 101

Bullying is traditionally defined as the process by which one individual uses either a real or perceived physical strength to persuade, influence, or intimidate another person. While individuals of any age can suffer from bullying, it most often affects those under the age of 18 years. And though bullying may seem harmless enough, it can often have far-reaching effects that may significantly alter the life or behavior of the afflicted individual. In recent years, text bullying has become an especially popular way to target individuals who are deemed weak or undesirable. Individuals who are interested in learning more about text bullying and stopping it before it starts should first understand its effects, prevention, and statistics. Identifying the do’s and don’ts of texting can also be an effective way to prevent text bullying from occurring.

What is Text Bullying?

Before one can learn how to prevent text bullying, they must understand its’ concept. As suggested by the name, text bullying is quite similar to traditional versions of the activity, in that it is used to dominate and intimidate another individual. However, instead of using face-to-face methods, text bullying relies on the use of cell phone technology to send intimidating messages, pictures, videos, or other forms of communication. Since the bully does not have to be physically near the victim for the bullying to occur, text bullying can often occur 24 hours a day. Similarly, since the bully does not have to face their victim, they often feel at liberty to send messages that are even meaner than the ones which would be used in public. Finally, the use of pre-paid cell phones that are purchased with cash may be untraceable, further leading to a feeling of anonymity by the bully.

Effects of Text Bullying

There is no question that the effects of text bullying are numerous and widespread. Specifically, victims of text bullies are often at an increased risk for the development of depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal. In addition, these victims may display an increase in their own violent tendencies, either towards the original bully, or towards members of their immediate family. Finally, suicide is perhaps one of the most serious effects of text bullying. Unfortunately, as the trend of text bullying as grown, more and more victims have turned to the use of suicide as a final escape. Instead of suicide, victims of text bullying should turn to friends, family members, and school officials to seek the on-going, necessary care and treatment.

Prevention of Text Bullying

Obviously, stopping text bullying before it starts is essential. Unfortunately, most experts agree that the only way to stop the prevalence of mobile bullying is through education of students, parents, and the community as a whole. Teens should understand that bullying—in any form—should never be allowed, as it can have serious, life-altering consequences. Similarly, teens who are a victim of bullying should feel free to go to parents, school officials, and even law enforcement officers if and when bullying occurs or increases in severity. Finally, parents should be aware of the effects of their behavior, or lack of it. In many states, parents can be held responsible for the cyberbullying done by their children or dependants through either financial or criminal liability. 

Text Bullying Statistics

These days, cell phones are used by younger and younger children—in fact, some experts suggest that currently, nine in 10 teenagers have access to this piece of technology. It should be of no surprise, then, that approximately 20% of teenagers in the United States have, at one point or another, been the victim of a cyber bully. Luckily, the percentage of teens who are participating in text or cyber bullying appears to be quite low, at or around 10% of the teenage population. As with other trends, text bullying does make boundaries when it comes to gender. Current evidence suggests that while it is used as a form of intimidation by both sexes, it is much more prevalent in female teens. Cyberbullying is also often directed as homosexual youths, of both male and female sexes.

Do’s and Don’ts of Texting

Maintaining proper etiquette when using a cell phone is essential for teenagers, as well as for individuals of all ages. Teens should never say something over a text message that they would not feel comfortable saying in public, where it could be overhead by friends, parents, school officials, or other professionals. In addition, sending photos that can be perceived as embarrassing or private should never be sent in a cell phone message, especially one that may be read by large groups of students. As mentioned previously, students who do receiving threatening or frightening texts should also show the message to an adult as soon as possible. In most cases, responses to messages such as these should be kept to a minimum, as they often only lend “fuel to the fire.”

Individuals who are interested in learning more about texting and mobile bullying can do so by visiting the following websites: