A culture of impatience and instant gratification now dominates our world. Before internet technology, it was difficult to imagine that communication could be used in ways that are so cruel and detrimental to others. Today’s technology facilitates instant, widespread and anonymous ways to inflict harm more easily on others and often without repercussions or legal consequences.
Moreover, these types of hateful and aggressive online behaviour are becoming more common among young social media users. These harmful behaviours include flooding the recipient with a great number of texts and emails in a short time; spying using GPS tracking; accessing smartphones, email, and social media accounts without permission; spreading hurtful rumours on social media and in messaging groups; doxxing; blocking or ignoring; cyberbullying; and stalking.
“Stalking, like cyberbullying, seems to be an attempt to make another person frightened or develop low self-esteem. Ignoring is ceasing all communication with the victim. The motives behind ignoring the victims may be similar to those of cyberbullying and stalking, but sometimes they are used to end a friendship or romantic relationship,” says Dr. Andrew Adler, Director of and Clinical Psychologist at the Adler Family Centre.
Dr. Adler points out that some youngsters engage in cyberbullying because they cannot control their anger and they manage it by taking it out on their peers. There are also those who are prompted by low self-esteem and believe they can only feel better about themselves when they make others experience the same negative feelings and anxiety.
“Teenagers seem to engage in different harmful internet behaviours for specific reasons. Although they may not always be aware of the dangers, the result may be serious psychological difficulties for the victims,” says Dr. Adler.