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4 Effects of Cyberbullying and How to Protect Yourself

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Cyberbullying is sadly as old as the internet itself. Wherever people interact online, there is the potential for bullying, such as when playing online games or on social media.

A lot of focus is placed on young people experiencing online bullying, yet it's estimated that around 15 percent of adults experience nastiness and negativity online. It can have massive effects on people, but it's not something you have to accept.

If you experience intimidating messages and posts that make you feel scared, frightened, threatened, or harassed, you may have been a victim of online bullying. To help you understand the topic better, we're going to get into:

-The effects you may feel from cyberbullying;
-Why people become cyberbullies;
-How to protect yourself and stop online bullying.

What are the four emotional effects of cyberbullying?
Being the target of online bullies can be tough. It will affect us all in a range of ways, but there are common things to watch out for both in yourself and in someone that you may be worried about.

Four of the emotional effects of cyberbullying are:
-Stress and anxiety - when someone or a group of people are harassing a person online, it quickly becomes stressful.
Depression - a person can feel overwhelmingly sad and unmotivated in every area of their life when people are hurting them.
-Violence - when under attack, some people can react with violence, which could include hitting walls or breaking items in frustration.
-Low self-esteem - people can start to believe the negative things said about them and lose their confidence when being bullied online.

If you notice these changes in someone you care about or even yourself, it may be time to seek help and support from people around you.

What are the risk factors of cyberbullying?
Not everyone is predisposed to becoming an online bully. There have been studies that have looked into why adults sometimes start to harass and intimidate people online.

The reasons adults bully people are generally in line with the reasons children do it. Much of it comes down to the bully having mental health issues, having been bullied themselves, or being lonely and isolated.

In online gaming, women who have a lot of gaming experience have the highest chance of becoming a victim of bullying. Conversely, younger males are the most likely to become cyberbullies, according to a scientific study.

Why does social media encourage cyberbullying?
Gaming communities connect in games and across social media, through comment sections in streams and in groups for games fans. These spaces can be a forum for cyberbullies.

Some of the reasons social media is a breeding ground for online bullying include:

Anonymity, with it being hard to know who someone is in real life;
Disinhibition, with a lack of direct moderation in many social spaces;
Deindividualisation, with bullies not being able to see their victims as people.

Ways to protect yourself from cyberbullying
If you find yourself being the target of one or more cyberbullies, you don't have to accept the behavior. You have different tools at your disposal to protect you whether the bullying stays online or moves into the real world.

-First, you need to make sure your browsing is protected. As a gamer, you may already have a VPN download installed, but it's important to have it turned on to be effective. This means a bully will be unable to find out exactly where you're based through your IP address.

-Next, you can use all the tools that your games and other platforms offer to protect yourself. You can block people, ignore them for a set amount of time, and lock your accounts so only people you know and trust can connect and access your data.

-Finally, if you feel concerned about the bullying, you can seek advice from your local law enforcement. Many parts of the world have laws about harassment and misusing online communication, so you may be able to bring a legal case. Your local police will be able to offer advice.

Cyberbullying and gaming
Online bullying can be found across all parts of the internet and gamers are not immune. The competitive nature of gaming can cause people to become aggressive and the ability to be anonymous makes it seem like humans aren't being affected.

Make sure you keep your online access safe with a VPN, block and remove anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable, and go to your local law enforcement if needed. You can protect yourself and still enjoy your online gaming experience.

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