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TFI Insights: The differences between cyber & in-person bullying

Much has been said about cyber bullying, and how social media outlets have impacted the lives of teenagers.

But how do these new methods of bullying and torment differ from the face-to-face kind? How do the teenagers on the receiving end of these bullying experiences process them? At The Family Institute, our clinicians consider these questions as they treat their adolescent clients and their families. Here are a few of the ways these experiences are different for teenagers, according to our therapists:

  • The bullying victim can’t see the offender if the bullying takes place online, so she/he can’t get a sense of how the victim is feeling/responding to the encounter
  • The victim also can’t see or feel the responses of anyone who might come to her/his aid or defense
  • There’s a lack of authority figures who can intervene online, as most teens keep their social networks hidden from parents and adults
  • The quick pace and open (sometimes anonymous) forum of social media allows for more people to take part in bullying—people who might not engage in-person bullying may be more likely to do so online
  • Mean-spirited statements are more pervasive online—they spread faster, and are harder to erase than those said aloud
  • Cyber bullying is isolating because it doesn’t allow for the same in-person social support. This can make it harder to cope with, as social support is very important for teens

Recognizing these differences can help teenagers cope with cyber bulling.

At The Family Institute, our clinicians consider these details as they provide teenagers with the strategies and skills they need to cope with these experiences, as well as the issues of self-esteem, family relationships, peer pressure, and friendships so common in adolescence.

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