Cyberharassment employs various digital communication mediums to humiliate, harass, or deceive individuals.
Cyberharassment affects adults, though it is predominantly targeted at minors who can be harassed by their peers or by adults who have gained their trust. This is where the term ‘cyberharassment ‘ comes into specific use to define the situation created.
Therefore, reinforcing both digital security and privacy is crucial in preventing and avoiding dangerous situations for everyone.
If you’re concerned about cyberharassment and want to learn what it is in detail, the types, and how you can effectively prevent it, keep reading.
Cyber harassment definition
Cyberharassment is the act of harassment and deception carried out through various digital channels such as text messages, calls, or the sending of sexually explicit, compromising, or threatening information, among others.
The internet and the various ways to access digital platforms allow you to connect with people worldwide to share interests. Still, it can also make you, your users, and those around you victims of harassment.
Thus, cyberharassment seeks to torment, humiliate, threaten, or intimidate and can occur 24 hours a day.
This constant persecution and harassment can plunge its victims into a state of anxiety and desperation, leading them to make wrong decisions.
This form of aggression has characteristics that make it particularly dangerous:
- Persistence: It can develop throughout the day and night without relieving the victim.
- Permanence: Everything that is published on the internet is permanent and can become public, affecting the victim’s reputation.
- Difficulty of detection: cyberharassment is difficult to detect, especially in environments involving minors, where adults related to the child, be they parents, teachers, or other relatives, may not be capable of recognizing the signs of harassment.
Messaging channels, social networks, and even online gaming communities can become gateways for this crime.
In this sense, protecting digital identity—that is, the online version of each person’s physical identity—is necessary to safeguard the most vulnerable from cyberharassment.
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5 types of cyberharassment
Cyberharassment has evolved as communications have adopted new forms.
The 5 most common types of cyberharassment are described in the following points:
This involves recording a physical, verbal, or sexual assault with the intent of distributing it on the internet. The fact that the violence goes viral increases the effect of contagion by imitation.
The perpetrator’s goal, in most cases, is to gain popularity at the expense of humiliating their victim.
This type of harassment requires the prior agreement of two or more people who must find a way to isolate the victim and plan their attack.
This focuses on sending offensive messages to a person massively by one or several people.
It can originate from a difference of opinion or any other pretext and exposes the victim to public ridicule.
While it is true that cyberharassment is most often perpetrated by one or several minors against another minor, this variant can be found where an adult seeks to gain the trust of a minor to obtain compromising information from them and extort them.
This adult usually pretends to be a minor or someone young to deceive their victim until they achieve what they seek gradually.
This consists of spying on a person and constantly tracking their actions and movements on social media or any digital medium.
The intention is to gather as much information as possible about the person being spied on for malicious purposes.
Sexting to minors
This form of cyberharassment is an extortion of victims who have previously shared conversations, photographs, or videos of an intimate, erotic, and/or sexual nature.
The harasser forces their victim to send more content under the threat of distributing the material on networks to make it public.
There may be cases where the ultimate goal is to get this content to third parties without the minor’s knowledge. In this context, we would be talking about non-consensual sexting to minors.
How to prevent cyberharassment?
Despite the severity of cyberharassment, the good news is that it can be prevented and even avoided by taking a series of measures that we share with you:
- Maintain constant communication with the most unprotected so they feel confident talking to you about any problem.
- Advise against talking on the internet with anyone who is not known in real life.
- Observe their behavior, especially if they tend to isolate themselves or if they have changed their patterns and behave inexplicably, or show signs of depression, evasion, or sadness.
- It is important to make them understand that personal data should not be provided and to always employ the principle of caution, especially with people you do not know.
- Also, do not spread or send compromising information, images, or videos, whether your own or of others.
- Protect digital privacy by checking the permissions of your programs and platforms. This allows you to help avoid other dangers, such as identity theft or data theft.
- Report any situation of cyberharassment you witness.
- Share digital hygiene guidelines such as not sharing passwords with anyone and other actions that prevent a security breach.
- Install a system of activity supervision to prevent access to websites or programs of dubious origin and to reinforce digital security.
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