The Difference Between Cyberbullying and Traditional Bullying

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Cyberbullying and its Impact

Cyberbullying is an act of aggression against a person that is conducted with technology. In most cases, the attacker may choose to perform anonymous attacks under pseudonyms. The victims experience significant pressure to the point that some decide to commit suicide (Campbell & Bauman, 2018). An example of such a case occurs when students in a classroom decide to write mean comments on a classmate\u2019s Facebook profile or send hurtful messages. Such kinds of actions may cause unpredictable.

The Rise of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying appears to be on the rise among adolescents due in part to increased access to electronic devices and less online supervision. Less is known about how cyberbullying differs from traditional bullying which occurs in person and the extent to which these two forms overlap. Our first aim was to examine the overlap of traditional bullying (relational, verbal, and physical) with cyberbullying. The second aim examined student- and school-level correlates of cyber victimization as compared to traditional victims. The final aim explored details of the cyberbullying experience (e.g., who sent the message, how was the message sent, and what was the message about).

Differences between Cyberbullying and Traditional Bullying

Bullying is an unwanted aggressive behavior that occurs repeatedly against a victim, where there is an \u201cobserved or perceived\u201d power imbalance, and includes physical (e.g., hitting and kicking), verbal (e.g., teasing and threatening), and relational (e.g., rumor spreading and exclusion) forms. Recent data suggest that electronic forms of bullying may be on the rise among adolescents, likely because of the increased access to electronic devices and less online supervision. Although some research suggests that offline or \u201ctraditional\u201d bullying has similar characteristics and correlates to those of electronic forms, other studies suggest there are some important differences. Additional research is needed to examine if there are social\u2013emotional problems specific to being involved in electronic bullying that are distinct from those associated with traditional forms. The present study focused on cyberbullying, which is often used interchangeably with other terms, such as electronic bullying, Internet bullying, and cyber aggression.

Functional Differences of Cyberbullying

Certain characteristics of cyberbullying make it functionally different from traditional bullying. Although cyberbullying may be repeated over time, a single incident can be repeated if the e-mail is forwarded to multiple people or posted online and viewed by multiple people. Furthermore, the ability to be anonymously online. and the possibility that those who are not socially influential can be technologically savvy shift the notion of power. However, traditional bullying and cyberbullying have been assumed to be functionally similar by policy makers and educators (Smith & Steffgen, 2018). For example, the recent federal definition included the use of electronic media to harm another individual as an example of a relational form of bullying. Although the two different forms of aggression have similar psychological consequences, there is evidence that both forms of victimization have some distinct correlates and characteristics.

Psychological Impact of Cyberbullying

Prior research has linked cyber victimization with lower self-esteem, social stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms, even after controlling for traditional victim status. This suggests that both cyber and traditional victimization, independent of each other, may contribute to negative psychological and psychosocial outcomes. Given research showing differential correlates and consequences associated with the specific forms of cyberbullying, there is a need for additional research examining characteristics of cyberbullying which may differentiate it from other forms of victimization to inform interventions. Therefore, an aim of the present study was to contrast traditional bullying with cyberbullying to determine if they are distinct forms of aggression or if cyberbullying is just bullying through another medium.

Co-Occurrence of Cyberbullying and Traditional Bullying

Although few studies have investigated the co-occurrence of cyberbullying and traditional bullying, both forms appear to cause psychological distress independently; however, the effects may be the greatest in individuals who experience both. Victims of both traditional and cyberbullying cannot escape from the victimization, which may contribute to the higher psychological distress experienced by victims of both cyber and traditional bullying. With the increasing rates of cyberbullying, more research is needed where both cyber and traditional forms are examined simultaneously to directly compare them. These issues are of particular significance among high schoolers, as involvement in cyberbullying may increase through high school, whereas other forms of bullying generally peak in late elementary or middle school. There has also been research linking school-level variables, such as indicators of disorder, with traditional bullying, but there has been less investigation into their associations with cyber victimization.

Addressing Cyberbullying

The effects of bullying in teenagers, according to different reports on the Internet range from suicides to dropped academic performances. It is unfair to the victims. Laws regarding such acts are difficult to apply for children under the age of 18 because they are still under the care of their parents. The most effective way to deal with such cases is to counsel the students fregularly on responsible usage of the Internet and other technologies. It can be done by parents or teachers.


Campbell, M., & Bauman, S. (2018). Reducing Cyberbullying in Schools: International Evidence-Based Best Practices. Academic Press.

Smith, P. K., & Steffgen, G. (2018). Cyberbullying through the New Media: Findings from an international network. Psychology Press.

August 21, 2023


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Bullying Teenagers Youth

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